18 October 2013
If there’s one thing worth praising in this movie, it’s Patrick Wilson’s performance. He seems to have had fun, and he gets a couple of really brilliant moments as the film plods hopelessly towards its (anti)climax. But it’s hard to appreciate his work when everything that’s going on around him is so relentlessly terrible. It’s kind of heartbreaking, considering how far James Wan and Leigh Whannell seemed to have come from the dismal days of Dead Silence, but this totally unnecessary sequel should never have got further than a pitch meeting.
Whitechapel continued in fine form with a spooky conclusion to last week’s opening episode, taking in witchcraft, spycraft and mouldy bread which is not as odd a combination as it initially might seem. It turns out there is something rotting in the district of Whitechapel...
Opening with a wonderfully over-dramatic introduction to witchcraft by Buchan, the second episode continued the creepy atmosphere that the first instalment had carefully built up. It worked in the horror techniques expertly, weaving psychological suspense in with some good old-fashioned gore in the autopsy scenes and a couple of shock tactics to create a nicely spooky episode. Moving shadows, shots lasting only a few frames and a deep, brooding score were techniques utilised effectively, ensuring that individual scares had the power to make you jump violently yet remain immersed in the nicely haunting atmosphere.
Of course, there was indeed a rational explanation for the whole witchcraft-related crime spree found in the dangers of ergot poisoning which had corrupted the homeless man Washington (William Beck), seen in the first episode, into thinking that he had been cursed and must kill off the witches in order to rid himself of this. The links to witchcraft were well-handled and revelations about the homeless code in those symbols and the ways in which the victims could be seen as stereotypical witches made the supernatural element a great red herring for the rest of the plot. Like the link back to Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, the hysteria hides the actual reason behind why these people are dying and the poison corrupts Washington into his delusions.