London, 1941. In order to escape the dangers of the city, a group of children is transported to the countryside, specifically to Eel Marsh House. Little do they know, an even more sinister evil is lurking there in the shadows.
I got this movie for my birthday, but then I misplaced it in a purse for a while, finally found it, then was too busy to watch it. Until now.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is a sequel to the decently popular The Woman in Black from 2012, starring Daniel Radcliffe. I was a huge fan of the atmosphere that the first movie had, so I was decently excited to see this sequel, hoping that it would be similar in that way. I definitely should have tried harder not to compare it to the first movie, but that’s hard to do when the movie is a sequel.
I thought that in a general sense, the story in The Woman in Black 2 had the potential to be an even match with the first film. Being set in the middle of WWII, there is a lot of loss in the characters. The main character, Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) has clearly faced her own trauma, turning her attention toward children with a seemingly impossible smile on her face. Her headmistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) has a husband and two children fighting in the war, and she disguises her worry by working with an iron fist. The children they care for have seen terrible things, and in the case of Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), have lost those precious to them. It’s the perfect set up for a film with the same lonely atmosphere that the woman in black can prey on.
Unfortunately, I think this potential is most definitely lost along the way. While the original excels with its small cast, this sequel feels like it has too many characters, desperately finding something to do with them all. As with most sequels, this movie attempts to add or rehash on the story of who the woman in black is, despite the fact that it is decently explained in the first film. With adding to, and possibly even changing, the backstory of the big bad, the movie gets a little too complex, and the motivations don’t seem to match up.
The movie does have some atmospheric moments where the sense of dread is pretty powerful, but it mostly relies on jump scares to get its point across. This was disappointing for me. I also noticed that there was a different type of feeling to this movie, seeing that the main character is a woman with motherly instincts rather than a man protecting his own son. At times, it was hard for me to comprehend Eve’s extreme attachment to Edward, even though it makes sense in the overall story. Similar to the first, children play a massive factor. It’s just handled a little differently.
In terms of story, my biggest problems came toward the end. The film adds an aspect to the woman in black that says you’re safe if you don’t look at her, which creates a somewhat weird scene. The final showdown made me incredibly angry because it seemed very out of place. I didn’t feel that the sacrifice made sense with what we’d been shown so far. I mean I guess it makes sense with one of the secondary storylines, but it felt weird and forced to me. On top of that, the movie has the potential to end on a really somber note that fits the theme of loss, but it ruins it at the last second. I was very aggravated.
I was having some big issues with the technical aspects of the movie. There are some points in the beginning where it doesn’t seem like the audio matches up with the video. It happens periodically. I’m not sure if maybe it was a latency issue, but I didn’t notice it through the entire movie, just in a few parts. My biggest issue though was with the camera work. I wasn’t impressed by the cinematography at all, and there was some sort of distortion that was making my head hurt to focus on. It seemed like in some of the scenes, it was shot on a wide angle lens, and then they attempted to fix that distortion in post which created some sort of vignette effect. Whatever it was, it felt like my eyes were straining a bit to see for quite some time.
Overall, The Woman in Black 2 is not a bad movie, but its definitely not as good as the original. That seems to be the consensus amongst a lot of the other reviews I saw as well. Although, many people do consider it to be a bad movie. While it’s definitely average, it’s a good example of how a good movie doesn’t always warrant a sequel.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is currently available on Netflix streaming for those who are interested.