For a factory-churned effort unceremoniously dumped on moviegoers still hung over from the holidays, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is unusually and gutsily fixated on the trauma of its characters. Set in 1941, the story follows two teachers, Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory), and a group of children as they travel to the Eel Marsh House following one of Germany’s attacks on London. As in the first film, where the vast, swampy exteriors of the manse were so redolent of a vascular system, Eel Marsh’s creeky decay could be that of the body’s own. Both young Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), silent since losing his parents to the blitz, and the audience are subtly teased by what lies within a menacing hole in the ceiling that brings to mind a ruptured boil. But the film is most effectively suggestive prior to the appearance of the titular child-killing ghoulie, when Eve is unobtrusively waltzing into nightmares of her seeming past and the impossibly dashing pilot who helps their little group of survivors, Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine), shudders inexplicably and uncontrollably at the prospect of negotiating the marshland surrounding Eel Marsh. Save for a climax at a decoy airfield, wherein the conflation of the real and the imagined is thoughtfully connected to the characters’ paranoia, the film’s stockpiling of tragedies becomes increasingly and unfortunately accented by the noisiest concessions to the cheapest of shock tactics. Indeed, in its final mad rush to subject audiences to every incarnation of the jump scare imaginable, and to bring all subtext to the fore and tie together all loose ends, the film only ends up cheapening the sense of empathy it so handsomely and bravely summoned up to this point.
- Relativity Media
- 98 min
- Tom Harper
- Jon Croker
- Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox, Leanne Best, Oaklee Pendergast, Adrian Rawlins, Leilah de Meza, Ned Dennehy, Amelia Pidgeon
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