I consider The Woman In Black to be one of the greatest ghost stories ever told. I’ve never read the book, but I have seen both the stage and film adaptations which whilst being two different beasts all together, are both equally as chilling. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the sequel, bizarrely entitled Angel Of Death, with all of its marketing pointing toward a horror film more in keeping with today’s standards than that of a classic haunted house tale. The premise is actually a decent one; set during World War II, a number of children are taken from London to the country and re-homed at the derelict Eel Marsh House. Like lambs to the slaughter, it isn’t long before the spectral figure that haunts the grounds is spotted and the children’s lives come under threat, so it’s up to the sensitive teacher, Eve, and dashing pilot, Harry, to save the day. With a solid story like that and original author Susan Hill credited as one of the writers, it surely can’t be as bad as the posters and trailers have made out, right?
Wrong. It gives me no pleasure to say this, but The Woman In Black: Angel of Death is every bit the disaster I was expecting it to be. Like a disgruntled parent, I’m not so much as angry with the film as I am disappointed. Disappointed that the classic story has fallen into the money trap of other horror franchises and more so in Susan Hill for allowing this abysmal excuse for a film to even happen. With nothing to develop or add to the original story, this sequel should have had cash cow stamped onto the bottom of each frame. With this set to do as well or even surpass the original film, at this rate we’ll have The Woman In Black 5: Child Minder From Hell, in no time; a found footage horror film set in the modern day in an attempt to give it more of an ‘edge’. I say this only half jokingly.
Whereas the first film created a unsettling tone from the offset, this throws mood and atmosphere into the marshes and puts multiple jump scares in its place. It’s as if the creative team thought to hell with subtlety and silent eeriness, let’s just make everything even louder and throw stuff in people’s faces, and while we’re at it throw in some explosions too because that’s all the popcorn munching, fizzy drink slurping, chair kicking, squealing teenagers really want after all. Even if the scares were remotely original, that would at least have made it a little worthwhile, but unfortunately the same scares from the first time around are recycled and any new ones are just laughably ridiculous. And that’s coming from someone who is usually a wimp in these types of films.
There’s just no point to it at all, other than to make easy money for everybody involved in the production. It’s lazily written, filled with plot holes and characters whose back stories only serve as a reminder of how interesting Arthur Kipps’ search for the afterlife in the first film truly was compared to that of a pilot with a fear of water in this one. It lacks depth and mood, is completely charmless and depressingly dull to the point where I would have gladly been led into the marshes by the titular ghoul over having to have sat through another minute. I wanted to walk out and that’s very unlike me. I stayed until the end in the hope of some kind of redemption but alas, it remained painful to the very last frame. The only silver lining is that I can at least pretend this doesn’t exist and hope and pray that The Woman In Black is finally left to rest in peace after this mess of a picture.
Image credit to http://www.fangoria.com