The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

Posted by Joel Copling on January 2, 2015

Hollywood just cannot pass up the latest trend of opening a calender year's worth of cinematic effort with a disposable horror effort, and here we have one of the least-rotten eggs of the bunch. "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" suffers from many of the same issues that its decent but problematic predecessor had--a penchant for scares that were of the jump-out-at-you variety, meshed uncomfortably with a story whose themes were at odds with its broader aspects--but inflates each of them. The scares are practically nonexistent (Not a single time did I jump when something came barreling toward the camera out of a void or shadowed corner of a room), and the plot is basically a non-starter.

It's been approximately twenty years since the events of the previous film, and Daniel Radcliffe's Arthur Kipps is nowhere to be found onscreen. Instead, we have Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) to rally behind. She is an assistant school-teacher to the hardened Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory). They are among the unlucky caught up in the midst of a world at war, and they seek refuge in an old manor house. Of course, it's not any old manor house, and strange apparitions keep appearing in odd places. One of the children, a purposefully mute orphan named Edward (Oaklee Pendergast, who isn't in the least creepy but mostly resembles, uncannily, Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick in 2006's remake of "The Omen"), seems to communicate with a female figure dressed all in black.

Basically, "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" is listless and unapologetically so--which might be why it's hard to dislike. Fox' Eve is as easy to rally behind as Radcliffe was in the first film, although an entirely shoe-horned-in attraction to a fighter pilot named Harry (Jeremy Irvine) and some under-developed back-story still manage to make the actress's part one-note. The children are all interchangeable, and when it comes to this sort of material, hokey, CG-conceived images of spectral faces with loosely connected jawbones and empty eye sockets are a dime a dozen (as is the predictable final shot a tiresome stinger for a second sequel). Nothing about the film really chills beyond cinematographer George Still's English shorelines at night, but still nothing about it is particularly depressing or insulting when it all boils down.

Film Information

Phoebe Fox (Eve Parkins), Helen McCrory (Jean Hogg), Jeremy Irvine (Harry Burnstow), Leanne Best (The Woman in Black), Oaklee Pendergast (Edward), Adrian Rawlins (Dr. Rhodes).

Directed by Tom Harper and written by Jon Croker.

Rated PG-13 (disturbing/frightening images, thematic elements).

98 minutes.

Released on January 2, 2015.