This month sees Daniel Radcliffe jumping back into the horror genre with an adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel Horns, and so it’s as good a time as any to release the first full trailer for The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death. Radcliffe played beleaguered lawyer Arthur Kipps in James Watkins’ 2012 original, but won’t be reprising the role since this sequel jumps 40 years into the future of Eel Marsh House, when it becomes a refuge for children escaping the Blitz during World War II.
Phoebe Fox and Jeremy Irvine star as Eve and Harry, a young couple charged with looking after a group of children who have been sent from London to the countryside. Unfortunately Eel Marsh House happens to be a particularly bad place to take children, since it’s haunted by a malevolent spirit that specializes in driving children to their deaths.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death features a different creative team than the original film, with Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders) directing from a screenplay by Jon Croker (Desert Dancer). However, author Susan Hill – whose 1983 horror novella “The Woman in Black” was the source material for the original movie – penned the story that Croker’s script is based on.
The central mystery of the Woman in Black – who the ghost is and why she’s so angry – was already solved in the first movie, which leaves The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death to simply see what terrors can be wrought from returning to Crythin Gifford and Eel Marsh House with a bigger cast. The trailer has some genuinely creepy and clever shots, but there are also certain moments (the scene that was highlighted in the teaser, for example) which feel a bit too much like a retread of the first movie.
Overall, though, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death looks better than a lot of cash-in sequels. Seeing as the first movie wasn’t really a masterpiece there’s no reason why the sequel shouldn’t be able to match it in quality – or perhaps even exceed it. The trailer does suggest a potential over-reliance on long stretches of quiet moments coupled with cheap jump-scares, though, so that could be a problem.
There’s been a big push for franchises in the horror genre, thanks in no small part to the success of the Paranormal Activity series, and Universal has even taken cues from the comic book movie genre by announcing a shared cinematic universe of classic horror monsters. If The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death performs well enough at the box office, don’t be surprised if The Woman in Black 3 is announced by this time next year.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death will be in theaters on January 2nd, 2015.