As World War II drags on, a gentle young teacher with a secret (of course) finds herself packed off along with a clutch of varyingly traumatised schoolchildren and chilly colleagues to escape the Blitz in a certain familiar derelict mansion, where things inevitably begin to go bump (and occasionally squelch) in the night.
Doe-eyed newcomer Phoebe Fox rarely overplays her unraveling, while Helen McCrory is nicely pitched as her stern and icy superior. The house itself is again pretty magnificent, this time lensed a little brighter but heavier on the rich decay and marsh island fog. Expanding the house’s mythology, the dread spools itself out in pleasantly measured doses for the first two acts, and the film has a good way with unsettling detail in its calmer moments, but (perhaps to atone for its predecessor’s rather ruthless creepiness given its low age rating) there’s a tendency to pull the truly spooky punches.
Outside the sadly occasional moment of satisfying nastiness (and one or two of regrettable daftness) somehow the whole seems unlikely to haunt the viewer out the door.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death | Directed by Tom Harper (UK, Canada 2014) with Phoebe Fox, Helen McCrory. Starts February 19