The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death might seem like a cash grab as so many sequels can be. The Woman in Black was a mild hit in the U.S., but an enormous smash in the UK, where it came in second at the year end box office the year it arrived -- second only to Skyfall.
But, also The Woman in Black is a story that has rocked the British Isles for generations as the novel is studied in schools and the stage play is one of the longest running in West End history.
So, how does The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death hold up to its predecessor?
The first thing it has working for it is the landscape where this tale is told. The blitzkrieg attack on London during World War II was an inherently scary time for anyone living in the British capital city. As teased in The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death trailer, the film starts there as citizens of that great city endure night after night of bombings that bring it to the brink.
As such, there were thousands left orphaned and we meet a few of them as they are being escorted by Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) out of the dangerous city to a house in the country.
As anyone who has seen the first film knows immediately upon seeing the rundown estate that they all pull up to, this is one haunted house. It is the very home where Daniel Radcliffe’s lawyer in the first film had all that horror. We know the frights will begin, it is just a question of when and in what form The Woman in Black will haunt anew.
The story focuses mainly on the maternal relationship between Jean and an orphan boy named Edward (Oaklee Pendergast) who hasn’t spoken since his parents were killed in the bombings. It appears that the Woman in Black has set her sights on Edward, and if Jean has anything to say about it, she won’t get her rotting fingers on him at all.
The issue with The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is that it takes so long to give us any kind of scares. It feels as if we are waiting forever for the meat of the mayhem to reveal itself, so by the time it finally does spook, it might be overdue for many in the audience. Sure, there are jump out of your seat moments, but they arise from some of the most cliched horror scare tactics that savvy horror fans have seen for years. No, there is no jumping cat out of a cupboard to make you shriek, but it’s close.
The Woman in Black herself is seen less so this time out than in the first film. And as such, we think that filmmakers have done the series a great disservice. She is a haunting and commanding figure and they should have utilized her so much more before the (honestly) thrilling conclusion.
In the first film, almost immediately when Radcliffe arrived at the haunting home, there were teases of terror around every corner that built up to some satisfyingly shiver-worthy scares. Unfortunately, our The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death review can report, they never really arise in the follow-up.
It is an interesting premise, but sadly misses the mark in execution. It has moments of being riveting and haunting, but they don’t completely add up as they should.
Watch The Woman in Black online and see how scary this franchise can be.