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The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death – Movie Review

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The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death – Movie Review

Rating: D- (Absolutely Horrendous)

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If ever there’s a genre that needs to desperately continue to evolve, it’s horror. Whenever one comes out that sparks a lot of life into the genre, another immediately arrives that drags it backwards again with tired clichés and dull characters. Like any type of movie, there needs to be a strong and compelling story with leads worth caring about as these horrific events circle around them. The Woman in Black 2 begins with potential as the real horrors of World War II cause a group of children to go into hiding. However, that is quickly ruined with obvious trickery and protagonists who do almost every idiotic decision imaginable.

The biggest sin The Woman in Black 2 commits is it’s simply boring. There was a lot of room for an atmospheric and scary haunted house picture, especially since the Second World War and children play a large role in the plot. However, the final result ends up being very stale with little creativity on the screen. Director Tom Harper relies a lot on jump-scares to get a jolt out of the audience. It’s a technique that has never been and never will be scary. Jump-scares provide a slight annoyance whose impact immediately leaves your body without inducing any nightmares. It’s the cheapest tactic in the horror film handbook and this film uses too many of them. The scares are similarly telegraphed a mile away and are so predictable, one can easily count down towards the big moments.

Just as cliché are the characters, who fill the typical archetypes of the genre with no new ideas to contribute. When the silent young boy is introduced, it’s not hard to see where and how the ghosts of the house will utilise him. A bully who torments him is the most obvious stereotype of that character and after a second of screen time, it’s obvious in which direction the screenplay will take him. The young teacher caring for the children is mostly written to look scared and walk down corridors, because she’s such a one-dimensional horror heroine and makes some terrible decisions along the way. The script attempts to give her a traumatic back story, but only uses that as an excuse to have random monsters appear in flashes. Her potential love interest is similarly dull and the casting of Jeremy Irvine is especially perplexing. This is the sort of film one appears in, before landing a major role in a Spielberg film, not afterwards. It’s impossible to believe the same agent who got him cast in War Horse handed him this script.

The Woman in Black 2 doesn’t even take full advantage of its locale, creating a haunted mansion about as frightening as the one in the Eddie Murphy film. This ghost’s ideas of scaring the current lodgers consist of locking doors, scribbling on walls and turning the lights off. Rather than giving us goose bumps, it only causes stifles of laughter. The score’s constant banging of piano keys doesn’t do much to heighten the already low fright factor. The script doesn’t even parallel what is happening in the front lines to the terrors awaiting the children and their guardians in that house, even though the opportunity definitely presented itself.

January is generally thought of as a dumping ground for the lower-quality pictures the studios aren’t sure where else to place on the schedule. That shouldn’t be the case and yet The Woman in Black 2 unfortunately contributes to that stereotype about the first month of the year. Horror movie fans deserve something worthwhile for them, while most filmgoers catch up with awards contenders, but this sadly isn’t it. It seems to exist to quickly capitalise on the mild success of the first Woman in Black movie with little time to improve the many script and editing flaws that occur throughout the film.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison