The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, 2015
Directed by Tom Harper
Starring Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox, Leanne Best, Oaklee Pendergast, Adrian Rawlins, Leilah de Meza, Hayley Joanne Bacon, Ned Dennehy
40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from WWII London arrive, awakening the house’s darkest inhabitant.
Since their revival, Hammer haven’t reached the heights of their heyday. The American remake of Let Me In was fine enough, but efforts such as The Quiet Ones and The Resident failed to spark any interest. Their only real success story was 2012’s frankly brilliant The Woman in Black, a superb adaptation of the fantastic stageplay that used amazing practical scares with a real sense of terror. You can argue (quite rightly) that the 12A rating was a misstep in its marketing strategy, but it’s hard to argue that it delivered on what it set out to do – scare the wits out of you. Its sequel, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by its predecessor and, in fact, often falls flat.
The real problem with The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is that it feels like a checklist of horror tropes and the movie just ticks them off one by one as it plods along. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of clichés that offer literally nothing new to the genre. Just watching the trailer will reveal that its biggest scare gamble is a rocking chair slowly creaking back and forth with no one in it – haven’t seen that before have we? Hell, it was used in Annabelle just a few months ago – another lameduck horror movie with nothing new to say. Because of this, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death just feels very standard and dull, which means there aren’t any real scares to be had.
It’s not as if it doesn’t try of course, it’s just the attempts it does make aren’t particularly well executed. Tom Harper, a TV director by trade, shows that he doesn’t have the creative flair to create true horror as he just copies and pastes what he’s seen from other movies without any success. Whereas The Woman in Black director James Watkins (who has a horror background) used practical effects with slow build to create genuine terror (just like the stage play), The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death relies heavily on CGI and seen-it-all-before jump scares which will leave you yawning more than screaming in terror. In fairness to the movie, there are a couple of chilling shots, but Harper isn’t on the same level as Watkins and is instead a director-for-hire who doesn’t have the first clue about the genre.
Performances across the board are decent, though nothing to write home about, and the film does have some good aesthetics (even if it is just several shades of brown). But it’s just very empty. When it’s not going through the motions, it’s stuck in first gear with tedious dialogue scenes that serve no other purpose than to simply move the mundane plot along. The whole film is a bit of a tiresome bore and its lack of originality in its horror means that The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is a rather pointless affair.
And that is perhaps its biggest crime. In essence The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is a movie that never needed to be made, but with the first one making $120 million from a $15 million budget, the cash registers were always going to ring and the cash udders were always going to be pulled. So rather than expand on the story with a director and writer who have an affinity for the first movie and the horror genre, they hired a man with no real feature film experience and a writer with no horror background. And as such, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is as paint by numbers as the dots connected as to why the movie was made in the first place. Nothing offensive to the viewing experience (it’s not as bad as Annabelle or Devil’s Due for example), but not one to seek out any time soon.
Plus, it never uses Slayer in the soundtrack, which is a huge missed opportunity.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.
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