by Sherry Lipp
Why is it that almost any horror film that has the slightest modicum of success is greenlit for a sequel? I know the answer is money, but I hate that so many films are cheapened by poorly made sequels that are simply made to squeeze a few more dollars out of the people who enjoyed the first one. I’m not even talking about great films here, but films that brought some enjoyment or a cool story to the screen. In this case I’m talking about The Woman in Black. The first film told a suitably scary ghost story with some unexpected twists and turns. Its sequel, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is neither scary nor suspenseful. Instead it throws out all the rules established in the original and relies on loud bumps and bangs to goose the audience.
Set several years after the original, Angel of Death finds the remote Eel Marsh house once again occupied when a group of children are sent there to escape war-torn London. The children are accompanied by headmistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) and school teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox). We already know from the first film that children and The Woman in Black don’t mix. However, it’s not children the ghost doesn’t like. It’s their parents. Yes, children die when she’s around, but it’s not to punish them, it’s to punish their parents.
So, we already have one rule broken. These children have no parents with them. Some are orphaned and some have been sent away, but there are no parents around to immediately mourn their loss. In the first film an adult had to first glimpse the titular character and then some random child, or children, miles away would be compelled to commit suicide. It’s a pretty dark concept really. The sequel has the ghost manipulating the minds of the children we already don’t like because they bullied an orphaned boy named Edward (Oaklee Pendergast).
So now the Woman in Black has a conscience? That’s really all that scary. What’s also not effective is what’s supposed to be Eve’s personal connection to the story. In the first film we had a genuinely emotional, and understated, performance from Daniel Radcliffe who played recently widowed single father who unwittingly found himself battling the angry apparition. He had a personal stake in everything because he had a young son of his own to protect, and he felt responsible for unleashing the Woman in Black on the town.
Eve, on the other hand, has no personal stake in the matter other than attempting to get the children to safety. We are told a vague back story about how she was forced to give up her baby because she was a teen mother. I’m not sure how that all tied in, but the film seemed to want to make it important without telling us why.
All in all, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is a poor sequel to what was on entertaining film. The Blu-ray contains a standard set of features including several making-of featurettes and one deleted scene.
Final word: Skip this one and stick with the original.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death images: Relativity