ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

Forty years after the events of the first film, London is in the midst of a bomb raid during WWII. In order to protect her schoolchildren, Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) evacuates everyone out of the city and over to the British countryside. Taken to an abandoned estate, cut off by a causeway from the mainland, they are left at Eel Marsh House.

Just a suggestion, but you might not wanna take up residence there.

After a while, the children, one by one, begin to act strangely. Looking to solve these bizarre turn of events, Eve, with the help of local military commander Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine) discover that the children have awoken a dark force that has haunted the establishment for years.

SPOILER ALERTS: It’s the woman in black (Leanne Best).

Well, readers, 2014 is in the past and a new year for film is upon us. Kicking 2015 off is the sequel to The Woman in Black, which starred Daniel Radcliffe, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death. Now, to those that don’t know how films are released, late spring through summer is the blockbuster season, the Oscar bait comes around October to November, and then we get another blockbuster month for the holidays. Then, we have January – that one month of the entire year where the studios stand over every theater in the country and take a giant crap.

However, I gotta admit, this film turned out to be an exception to the rule. Maybe it was the low expectations over a sequel that seemed completely unnecessary to make that elevated the experience for me, but this film – while not perfect – genuinely creeped me out.

I’m just kidding. This movie sucked.

I enjoyed 2012’s The Woman in Black. The atmosphere was effectively moody, Radcliffe gave a solid performance, and although the film fell back on an obligatory jump scare every now and then, it maintained a spooky vibe that worked. Here, I already mentioned the key word with The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, and that’s “unnecessary”. Whatever, though, ’cause the first film made it rain dolla bills for the recently resurrected Hammer Films, so they’re gonna resurrect that bitchy corpse whether she wants to be brought back or not.

Director Tom Harper does apply a suitably somber tone for the film (by way of cinematographer George Steel, whose work here sometimes looks a tad too murky for its own good), but the scares are nonexistent. That’s ’cause Harper and writer Jon Croker might as well have placed a giant neon sign that telegraphs every single story and character beat that’s about to take place.

* Abnormally quiet kid new to the group? Check. Yep, I know who’s gonna be the woman in black’s new guinea pig.

* Schoolchildren that act like total dicks to the quiet kid? Might as well have named their characters Victim #1, #2, etc. ’cause they’re gonna die.

* Oh, look. One of the members is a skeptic. Don’t worry; she’ll have her “I believe” moment soon.

* Camera’s panning underneath the bed? Get ready for a jump scare.

* Someone looks out the window? Get ready for a jump scare.

* Is someone behind me? Nope. Let me check again. Bam! Oh! Another jump scare.

Whoopty doo.

You know the filmmakers are phoning it in when even the jump scares just resort to being nothing more than the equivalent of those 30-second YouTube videos that have you stare at the screen the whole time before some weird shrieking creature pops out at you.

More often than not, genre sequels are there to expand on the story’s mythology, yet Croker brings nothing new at all to the table, and just rehashes the same elements from the previous film, proving even further just how unnecessary this film is (those dolla dolla make them holla though). The majority of the plot revolves around Eve investigating what it is that makes this woman in black tick, even though Radcliffe’s character did enough of the same investigating already in the first film.

I can’t wait for next film set 40-years later in the ’80s – The Woman in Black 3: Just in Case You Didn’t Get It the First Two Times.

On top of that, the leap in logic Croker makes in getting these schoolchildren over to this abandoned house can hardly go unnoticed (the first film wasn’t a groundbreaking story, but at least Radcliffe’s motive was plausible). London’s getting blasted away to hell and back during the war, and apparently Casa de Woman in Black is the only place in all of England that’s available. Call me silly, but I honestly believe the kids were safer surrounded by blown away houses and bombs falling from the sky than living in a rundown house, presided by a malevolent ghost, that would fail every safety code in the book.

Of course, logic isn’t always necessary for horror films. Just as much can be forgiven with comedy if the laughs are there, much can be forgiven with horror if it’s scary. If the film ain’t scary, though, what else is there?

That said, Phoebe Fox, to her credit, gives it the old college try here. Not that the material did her any favors, but the fact that she can hold her own, amidst a collection of personality-less characters, in such a weak film says a lot of her potential. It’s not a mind-blowing performance, but a solid job that at least shows me she can be a very reliable actress in the years to come.

Although it’s atmospheric and contains a well-acted turn from Phoebe Fox, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death offers nothing but the same old song and dance that we got from the first film. An even greater sin is committed by just not being scary at all, save the weak jump scares that are littered throughout the movie. I’m not exactly sure what the woman in black’s trick is with destroying her victims, but my first guess would be from boring them to death.

I give The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death a D+ (★½).

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