Ghost stories are well suited to the visual medium of film because what terrifies us aren’t the things we can see in the cold light of day but the unspoken horrors that lurk just out of shot or in the inky blackness of a dimly lit background.
Hammer Horror’s 2012 film version of The Woman In Black, based on Susan Hill’s celebrated horror novella of the same name, certainly hit a raw nerve.
Blessed with a post-Harry Potter leading role for Daniel Radcliffe, the resolutely old-fashioned haunted house yarn became the most successful British horror film for 20 years.
When those box office tills started ringing, Tom Harper’s sequel was a foregone conclusion.
Set 40 years later during the Blitz, Angel Of Death continues the reign of terror of the vengeful ghost, which haunts the cobweb-strewn hallways of Eel Marsh House.
Stern headmistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) and sensitive teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) evacuate a group of London schoolchildren to the countryside including a shell-shocked orphan called Edward (Oaklee Pendergast).
Their guide, Dr Rhodes (Adrian Rawlins), shepherds the school party to its new home: the dilapidated Eel Marsh House – unaware of its grim history,
The spectre of the house (Leanne Best) latches onto Edward, who is being bullied, and exacts revenge on one tormentor Tom (Jude Wright) before turning her attention to the other interlopers.
Eve musters her courage to protect her young charges, aided by a handsome pilot called Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine), who is stationed nearby. This sequel is bereft of original ideas and resorts to a familiar array of ominous creaks and groans to herald the arrival of the eponymous spirit.
Fox’s plucky heroine puts herself in harm’s way with such foolhardy regularity, you have to question her suitability as a teacher.
In response, perhaps, to complaints from parents about the 12A classification of the first film, Harper’s sequel sports a 15 certificate and a warning about strong horror and threat.
Ironically, the original was scarier and shoe-horned more jump-out-of-your-seat boos into 90 minutes.