Thursday, 8 January 2015

Woman in Black: Angel of Death (3 Stars)

Before I went to see this film in the cinema two of my friends had already seen it. One said it was an awful film, the other said he loved it. After seeing the film for myself I can understand it. It's all a question of what you expect when you go to see a horror film. Do you want a good story, or do you want to be scared? The best films offer both, of course, but if a film only succeeds in one of the two categories opinions can be divided.

The film is a sequel to the 2012 film "Woman in Black", which was one of the most successful of the new series of Hammer horror films. It takes place 40 years later, in 1941, and features two school teachers accompanying a group of eight children from London to the remote countryside where they can be kept safe for the rest of the war. The place they will be staying is Eel Marsh House, the house that we saw in the first film. There are back stories about two of the group. The younger teacher, Eve Parkins, has given up her baby for adoption because she was unmarried. One of the boys, Edward, is unable to speak after the recent death of his parents.

The first hour of the film delivers what is expected from a horror film: frequent scares caused by jumps, i.e. sudden unexpected occurrences accompanied by a clash of loud music. Over-use of jumps in horror films has been criticised by film critics such as Roger Ebert, but I see nothing wrong with them. They're an effective tool in creating suspense, as long as they are used to support a good story. But that's exactly the problem we have here. In the last half hour everything gets muddled, when we see that the "woman in black" has two agendas, namely claiming Edward for herself and punishing Eve for abandoning her baby. Without giving away the end of the film, the final battle, in which the woman is defeated, confused me. I sat there asking myself how the things that happened did any good at all, and why they were considered a success.

A good film or a bad film? There will be those who love it and those who hate it. You decide.

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