Directed by: Tom Harper
Written by: Jon Croker and Susan Hill (Writer and Story)
Starring: Phoebe Fox, Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Oaklee Pendergast
UK Release: Out July 13th 2015 from Entertainment One
After the success of the 2012 adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling horror story, it was clear that a sequel would be in the works. Many had high expectations for the film as the stage adaptation is very highly spoken of, and if it can do that well on a stage the possibilities for the big screen are endless. Seeing “The Woman in Black” at the cinema with friends, I am definitely one of the many who is guilty of intending to view it purely because I wished to see what Daniel Radcliffe would be like in a role other than Harry Potter. Having said that I was not disappointed with the film and when hearing about the release of a sequel I knew it was one that I must see.
40 years after the Arthur Kipps’ (Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter, Horns) haunting experience at Eel Marsh House, with the hate-fuelled Jennet (the Woman in Black herself!) and we are in the midst of World War II. London is in chaos with people seeking shelter in the underground tunnels during bombings and all that can be heard it the crashing of buildings falling and the air raid siren screaming away.
Many city children were evacuated to the countryside during this time and so we see teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox – Switch, A Poet in New York) and her Head Mistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory – Penny Dreadful, Skyfall) accompanying a group of children onto the train in an attempt to get them to safety. Of course, the perfect place to evacuate young children is El Marsh House, the kind of place that gives you the chills just looking at it from afar never mind stepping inside it and anyone watching who has seen the first film knows that “safe” is certainly not a word to describe this house.
As the horrors of the house seem to unfold one after the other, Eve enlists the help of the dashing war pilot Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine – War Horse, Now Is Good) to help her figure out what is happening. Edward (Oaklee Pendergast – Wer, The Impossible) seems to be the one at the centre of everything, which effects Eve for reasons that you discover throughout the feature. His appearance within the film reminded me very much of Damien from The Omen (2006), which added to the overall dark feel. Jennet most definitely takes the rhyme from the first movie almost as gospel, ‘Wherever she’s seen, and whoever by / One thing’s for certain, a child shall die.’
The scares are similar to its predecessor, noisy and full of melancholy; but effective, I was taken aback a few times, jumping noisily in my chair, which my partner found amusing. Yet I feel this film, as a whole, seems more elegant and flows a lot more effortlessly than the first. Of the two I definitely preferred the latter, feeling that it focuses more within the actual house and marsh rather than, as in the first one, moving backwards and forwards between the village and the house again and again.
We are still left with things to learn about the demented Woman in Black, meaning that the whole film isn’t all just about scaring it’s viewer, and still isn’t just relaying the same information that we received in “The Woman in Black”. It ends with the possibility of a sequel, but personally I hope they don’t keep churning them out, as is happening with so many franchises now.
Don’t forget “She never forgives. She never forgets. She never left.”