The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is the sequel to The Woman in Black – a film I personally loved despite a few casting flaws. So has this sequel committed the crime of using a franchise name to produce an awful film? No. In fact, this one is far bolder and braver than the first. It takes place 40 years after the events of the first installment with the cloaked woman still haunting the Eel Marsh House.
Set in the Second World War, the mansion that is still full to brim with spooky decor from the first film is being used to shelter a young schoolteacher, her headmistress and a troop of evacuee children. Such an unfortunate coincidence since the current resident quite enjoys killing young ones – isn’t it? The sequel leans more on the harsher and more unsettling part of the haunting – how Jennet goads and tempts the children into their own suicides – taking pleasure in it all whilst doing so. With Jennet up to her old tricks, the young schoolteacher Eve falls prey to being the one punished in particular for giving up her baby when she was younger.
I feel that the films’ focus on the deaths of the children more than the first, making it much more disturbing due to warming to the little ones. For many of the children their parents are now no longer able to take care of them due to other duties during the war, one of the child’s parents (Edward) were both killed in an evening of air raids which makes him unable to communicate – preferring to draw or write down anything he needs to express. The film focuses on the key moments of the emotionless faces of the children, mesmerized by the cloaked being, before their untimely deaths – making it feel more terrifying than the first film. This film is once again bursting at the seams with jump scares – louder and darker than the previous set.
A clever effect that was also used in the first film was the use of the shadows and how the director used them to play tricks on you. It is the same for the sequel with and added grainy effect, making you focus on what is happening on the screen intensely when something jumps out at you making you jump out of your seat. Its good at making you feel the terror the characters feel – as if your in there with them.
The only part of the film I didn’t warm to was the love story. Just because the protagonist is a female does NOT mean she has to be saved by some heroic guy. Its a horror film – lets keep it that way – this love nonsense seemed so stark against the main storyline and made it hard to take both characters seriously despite their stellar acting in the horror scenes.
The ending was weak in comparison to the rest of the film. Two thirds of the film are full of urgency and terror and the ending is much of the same stuff we saw last time – making it end on a bum note. Edward and Eve are happily living in London after the films events when the woman – who we now know can actually leave Eel Marsh house – appears, smashing an image of Edward – one of the only children she failed to kill.