Available to own on DVD and Blu-Ray 13th July
Hammer shocked and surprised horror fans with The Woman In Black. Based on the successful stage play and starred a fresh from Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe. Although not looking much older, he still managed a great turn as the widowed father who is terrorised by the Woman In Black whilst staying in Eel Marsh House. It was a chilling film, with a surprisingly downbeat finale. Now fast forward several years as we return to Eel Marsh with a small group of school children, accompanied by their teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and headmistress, Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory), who are evacuating from the blitz back in London.
From the moment the evacuees arrive at Eel Marsh House, the tension is turned right up to 11. Every scene has you on edge, even if they’re just having a cup of tea. There’s familiar scenes of the old nursery, with the toys that start coming to life and THAT rocking chair. There are a lot of familiar beats at play, but then it is a new set of residents for the woman in black to terrorise. If you thought the fog in silent hill was restrictive, you’ve seen nothing yet, as there’s a great many scenes where the weather builds tension due to poor visibility, particularly in pursuit scenes. As with the original film, the woman in black’s main targets are children, as the ghastly ghoul sets her sights on them one by one, luring them to their demise. It can be rather heavy going in places, because as far as plots go, a ghost that preys on and kills children is rather morbid compared to other horrors, and is a lot more unsettling than it would be if the adults were the victims.
That’s not to say that the grown ups aren’t terrorised, with the adult cast all receiving their own fair share of torment as well. Eva, (plagued by nightmares after arriving at the house) has a very maternal instinct and is more lenient towards the children, whereas the headmistress has very little tolerance, both of whom seem to be concealing scars from the past, which seem to dictate their attitudes towards the children. Add to that, the dashing Air Force pilot Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine) stationed nearby, whose very presence suggests that not all seems right. The film treads some of the same ground as the original, but with it being set in the exact same place but with new characters, it would be difficult not to recycle some of the plot. That’s not to say that we’re just watching the first film again, there are plenty of references to the first film, but it also has plenty of its own ideas as well.
The young cast are quite the revelation, with each of the children giving great performances, that near enough outshine the adult members of the cast. The crescendo is agonisingly tense, as the dramatic finale plays out, and you genuinely have no idea if anyone will come out of it unscathed, as the ending of the first movie shows, that no one is safe from harm. Newcomers to the series won’t be missing anything having not seen the first film and fans of the first shouldn’t be disappointed with what’s on offer, as it’s just as frightening, if a little more melancholy.
Extras include deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.