Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Film Review: The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death (2014)

The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death (Review)
United Kingdom/Canada/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...it almost felt like I was watching a remake."

Amidst World War II, Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) joins with a headmistress and her schoolchildren to evacuate the war-torn world for a home in the countryside... The Eel Marsh House.

The Woman In Black 2 is essentially a retread of the original film with a new set of characters. The film primarily follows Eve Parkins, a deputy headmistress, her dull love interest, and a child who does not speak due to his sad experience; the rest of the characters consist of a bunch of cardboard children and the hardheaded headmistress. This group settles in the Eel Marsh House, where things eventually go bump in the night. Eve and some of the unfortunate children begin to see an eerie apparition in the dark. Eventually, death begins to plague the children and Eve rushes to find out why it's happening and how she can stop it. At this point, it's basically retelling the story of the woman in black, which is great, but unnecessary. The film leads to a very underwhelming ending — unlike the original, this ending utterly fails to leave an impression.

In fact, most of The Woman In Black 2 fails to leave an impression. I love the folklore vibe of the narrative, but the actual story is hollow. There's just not much going in here, except for needlessly retracing the steps of the original. Honestly, the story is so familiar and forgettable, it almost felt like I was watching a remake. The film is also severely lacking in atmosphere. The film is certainly dark, but not in the sense of an ominous ambiance — it's just dimly-lit, which can be annoying. There are a few spooky scenes and some jolting jump-scares, though. They are far and few between, but they're at least there. There are also some great surreal visuals. I really wish they were used more. Otherwise, it's not a particularly frightening film.

Phoebe Fox does well as the lead. Jeremy Irvine is serviceable in playing her love interest —  he doesn't have much screen presence, but he's not bad. The supporting cast is all-around good. The cinematography can be splendid. However, it can be occasionally hindered by the poor lighting. I watched this film in the same conditions as the first, but often had trouble seeing in this film. It's certainly difficult to see a woman in black when your film is doused in darkness. The woman in black standing in shadows... she may as well not be there! (This also negatively affects some of the spooky visuals. I actually had to rewind to catch the subtle shifts in the shadows I thought missed.)

The music blended well with the film, which is good enough, I suppose. The story is written by Susan Hill, the screenplay penned by Jon Croker, and the film directed by Tom Harper. I think Tom Harper can craft some great, haunting scenes with few issues. The significant flaws in this film are embedded in the story and screenplay — those flaws including generic and hollow characters, and a retreading plot.

Overall, The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death is a disappointing sequel. The story is too familiar, the characters are boring, the pacing is bad, and the horror is limited. Despite some lighting issues, the film is technically well-made. It simply fails to leave an impression. If you've already seen the original, there isn't much of a reason to watch the sequel. In fact, if you've seen the original, it'll feel like you've already watched the sequel. Unless you don't have much else to watch, the most I can recommend is a stream on Netflix.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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