The Woman in Black: Angel of Death

Composed By: Marco Beltrami

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, the sequel to the horror film The Woman in Black, takes place forty years after Arthur Kipps leaves the Eel Marsh House under strange circumstances.  The mansion has just recently received new occupants - an orphanage full of children and their caretakers Eve (Phoebe Fox) and Jean (Helen McCrory) forced to relocate from their original home in London.  As both the caretakers and the children begin experiencing strange events in the house, Eve enlists the help of a pilot (Jeremy Irvine) in looking into the house’s history.  She soon discovers that it is no coincidence that she has ended up in the house formerly owned by the Woman in Black.

            Having written such an engaging score for the original film, it comes as no surprise that the creators of the sequel would again turn to American composer Marco Beltrami to create the musical score for the second film.  Known for his work in the horror genre but having worked in just about every genre, Beltrami has created musical scores for such notable films as Mimic, all of the Scream movies, The Faculty, Resident Evil, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Underworld: Evolution, 3:10 to Yuma, The Hurt Locker, Max Payne, World War Z, Trouble with the Curve and more.

            For the musical score of The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, Beltrami decided to build upon the original score, adding elements from the time period to create a more interesting sound: “Musically, we built upon the score for The Woman in Black.  I had the opportunity to collaborate with [composers] Brandon Roberts and Marcus Trumpp, who added a fresh take to the creative process…This film took place during World War II so we wanted to craft a sound reminiscent of the time.  We incorporated percussive sounding instruments made out of artillery shells, which made a more interesting composition.”

            The Woman in Black: Angel of Death incorporates all of the tricks one would expect to find in an old school horror score.  It begins with Jennet Humfrye Lost Her Baby, featuring children singing a nursery rhyme ala the Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy Krueger song.  The track is especially creepy thanks to the echoey sound quality and the add in of ominous music during the second singing.  The lyrics are even creepier: “Jennet Humfrye lost her baby / Died on Sunday / {unintelligible words} on Monday / Who will die next? / It must be YOU!“  Children singing creepy songs or tones have been used successfully in a number of films - Nightmare on Elm Street, The Amityville Horror, Children of the Corn, The Ring, to name a few.

            The score filled with beautifully orchestral music that, though sad in nature, is incredibly engaging.  You can’t help but be entranced by its beauty and then - zap - a blast of music, often screeching violins or percussion or a mix of both hits you and makes you jump.  Then there are the moments of ominous music and screeching strings rising to a crescendo as the ghost appears or a discovery is made by the main characters.  Another nice touch are the sudden screams that appear out of nowhere in the score.  The last track, Where Is My Smile, appears to be somewhat happy in an all’s well that ends well sort of way…that is, until the very end when you are hit with a blast of orchestral music.  I get the feeling that this is accompanied by a glimpse of the Woman in Black, telling viewers that there’s more on the way.

            As with The Woman in Black Soundtrack, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death Soundtrack is a perfect example of horror music done right.  Not only does Beltrami use classic horror cues in his score, but he adds something extra in an effort to offer up scares that reflect the period of history the film takes place in.  The score is intriguing enough to inspire me to see this film and I am quite happy to add it to my movie soundtrack collection.


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