January 2, 2015 6:31:11 pm
The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death film review: Woman with a busload of children in her care
Cast: Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Irvine, Helen McCrory, Oaklee Pendergast
Director: Tom Harper
YOU can’t leave a good thing alone, and certainly not if it is a castle with a haunted past on an island with dead children to account for. So The Woman in Black returns, nearly three years later — this time with a woman with a busload of children in her care at the centre of it.
The premise is nice, and you have to appreciate Harper for going the length he does to establish the film’s World War II setting. Given that we know the battles here will be all fought in that castle eventually, he could have cut some corners. However, no. So Eve (Fox) and headmistress Gene (McCrory) are shepherding the children to that house during the bombing of London, when children were sent out to the countryside to be kept safe.
They board an antique train from an antique station, and ride a rickety old bus to the island, across marshes and mist on a narrow winding road. It’s a beautiful scene laden with foreboding. It’s a strange place to be sending children for safekeeping, but as the official of the Education Board explains, they have few options.
Things start happening almost as soon as the children reach the house, and particularly vulnerable is Edward (Pendergast), who has just lost his parents in the war.
However, again Harper makes an effort to give the house the semblance of a school, with Fox doing a credible job as the compassionate teacher who senses something wrong. The only one who lends her fears a sympathetic ear is Harry (Irvine), a dashing pilot stationed off the island in the village.
The Woman in Black 2 isn’t as scary as its prequel, assumes most of us have watched the first film, and sees a surpring number of deaths. You also wish some of the story was about the children separated from parents put through horrors. However, the focus almost entirely is on Fox.
Still the care with which Harper frames this story, which can hardly vary very much from the first, makes the effort worthwhile.
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