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THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH (review)

woman_in_black_angel_of_death_ver4THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH

Writen by Jon Croker / Directed by Tom Harper / Starring Helen McCrory, Phoebe Fox and Jeremy Irvine

The sequel is one of the hardest things to pull off, especially when it’s a horror sequel, given that  genre fans are particularly rabid about their loyalties. When THE WOMAN IN BLACK came out in 2012, and starred Daniel Radcliffe (THE F WORD), it offered up some genuine creepy moments, and brought new “life” to the “haunted house” genre. It was actually a pretty terrifying film. The sequel, THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH (I’m still not 100% sure why it’s called that) takes place 40 years after the events of the first film and is also the first time Hammer Films has produced a sequel in 40 years. Coincidence? Unfortunately, the movie isn’t anywhere near as interesting as that little tidbit of information.

Forced to escape London during WWII, school teachers Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) and Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) take their students to an isolated house in the country side, Eel Marsh House. They probably should have done some property research before hand. Upon arrival to the town, it is clear from the beginning there is something wrong here, something creepy and everyone seems to feel it. But the real creepiness is the house itself, abandoned and in the middle of a marsh with only one road going in or out, the children are meant to be safe from the potential attacks on London. As the school teachers and children begin to get settled in, Eve is having weird dreams and the feeling like someone is in the house with them. To counter that, of course there is the pragmatic Jean who is an ardent non-believer.

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The regular haunted house happenings occur here; doors shut and lock themselves; weird noises from empty rooms; lights flicker and shut off unexpectedly; and the general feeling of unease affects all the characters. The 2012 version of the film had its strengths, not only in its lead actor, but in the atmosphere created in the movie. The house itself was a character all its own with gorgeously executed set pieces and design, and a feeling that the house itself could be alive, just like any good horror movie (THE HAUNTING, THE OTHERS). However, many of the scares in THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 are jump-scares, mostly lame and predictable. A few actually solicited the appropriate reactions from the audience but they were overused and unintelligent. The house, while creepy enough, just doesn’t offer the same feeling that the first one did. Here, you don’t look into the dark shadows and wonder what might be lurking there, instead, you know something is going to happen; it’s just a matter of when.

The script is incredibly confusing and about half way through, it begins to get even more muddled and never really recovers. Some plot points (like the orphaned boy) are obvious and you can see the connections form the very beginning, but the introduction of a love interest between Eve and local military commander Harry (WAR HORSE’s Jeremy Irvine, now looking incredibly handsome) just feels completely misplaced and forced, as if it wouldn’t appeal to certain audience members if it didn’t have a love sub-plot. At the end of the day though, this plot just feels completely pointless. We are supposed to care about Eve through what we learn via her dreams and flashbacks, but they just repeat so many times it becomes tiresome.

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The theme of loss in THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 is pounded into the audience’s head one too many times and this repetitiveness becomes predictable and boring. The story relies far too heavily on assuming the audience has seen the first film and offers very little insight into The Woman and her story, so if you haven’t seen the first one, it is suggested that you do before seeing this one. Well, to be honest, just see the 2012 version and call it a day. One stay at this house was plenty.

2 sheep

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