Hello all! This post brought to you by the color black. To all the black holes that will eventually consume the universe, I offer my greetings. Earth might taste a little greasy on the first bite, but I’m sure you’ll find our molten core to be delicious. Today I’m reviewing The Women in Black 2: Angel of Death, or as it should really be called The Women in Black 2: This British Girl is NOT Daniel Radcliffe. At first viewing I thought “Surely Daniel will be appearing any moment now.” But he never did, and thus this film could never be more than mediocre. Now when I reflect upon it, I’m glad Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t in the movie. All of the children would have been like “HARRY POTTER!” and that would have been distracting for the Woman in Black. Rocking back and forth in a ghostly manner takes a lot of focus.
As I’ve already mentioned in my other horror movie post, the Woman in Black is one of my favorite horror movies because of its skillful use of suspense and atmosphere. The Woman in Black 2 used none of these techniques. You know what is really scary? Mysteriously dead children. You know what is not that scary? Explainable mute children. Oh no they can’t talk AHHHH we’re scared of them because they’re different. Are you scared of deaf people too, movie? It’s not their fault they can’t hear you!
The main premise of TWIB was that The Woman preyed on small children. That was her whole deal. If a man, like Daniel Radcliffe, happened to see a glimpse of The Woman, then she would take her revenge by systematically killing every single child in the village. By the end of the first movie, she’d killed a total of about seven children, which is a significant number if you consider that small English villages could contain less than 300 people. And the way she made them die was gruesome, whether it was jumping out of windows, or drowning in the ocean, or drinking bleach. The most important rule of the film was that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in the village was aware of The Woman and her sinister powers. They tried again and again to keep Daniel away from Eel Marsh house, but were foiled by his obstinacy. That’s important to remember when we discuss The Woman in Black 2.
The Woman in Black 2 takes place in World War 2, about 80 years after the first Woman in Black took place. A young school teacher named Eve is tasked with looking after 30 evacuee children in the countryside. Cheers to that, eh chap? One thing that this movie does very well is the scenery and the costuming. Eve looks stunning in her 40s era suits and caps. The war-era London scenery is also detailed and exciting.
On the train, Eve meets a dashing pilot named Harry, who says something mysterious about not being a pilot, even though he also said that he is a pilot. Harry is already too confusing for us, so we disregard him and his generically handsome face.
They take a pit stop in….Crythin Gifford, the village where Daniel stayed in the first movie. At this moment I’m thinking “They can’t be serious. They took all the children to this village? A village notoriously haunted by a woman who kills children?” Eve is accosted by a man who is of no importance to the plot, but pretends to be. Seriously, most of the things that happen in this film make no sense. He raves like a lunatic about “Seen on Sunday, died on Monday,” and if you know anything about the first movie, you know that he’s referencing The Woman, but for some reason we’re supposed to be in the dark about this. It makes little sense when sequels try to be established as independent from their predecessors, but it makes even less sense for horror movies, because they already rely on a strong basis of lore and horror movie “rules.” Why go through all the trouble of repeating these, or making them some big mystery, when the majority of viewers have already seen the first movie?
After this uneventful encounter with the town lunatic, Eve and the chilluns continue to…you guessed it…Eel Marsh house, otherwise known as the bed of Satan. Are you serious. movie? Of all the abandoned country houses in all of the British Isles, you had to bring all these vulnerable children to that crazy ghost woman who murders children? It seems like bad planning on the part of the British government. Don’t they have records about these things? Eve is immediately taken aback by the house, and rightfully so, because even though it has electricity now, it still gives off terrible vibes of ghostly horror. They settle into the house. Eve is conveniently situated on the upper floor where she can’t hear the children scream. She remarks that the house “feels sad,” to which the landlord/ British evacuation guy says “Rooms aren’t sad, people are sad. HAVEN’T YOU WATCHED THE FIRST MOVIE, EVE?” But Eve didn’t watch the first movie, so she’s completely surprised when the upstairs nursery room door is locked, like in the first movie, is surprised when she hears monotonous rocking chair sounds, exactly like in the first movie, and is still surprised when she sees glimpses of The Woman, like in the first movie. The most disappointing part about this sequel is that almost all the scares are ripped straight from the original. I can stick by a badly plotted horror movie if it’s scary, but this was both silly and unoriginal. Let’s see the similarities between the two trailers, shall we folks?
It’s almost like they re-cut the first trailer, added a woman and a few kids, and made a new movie. There’s the creepy monkey, voice-over child, jump scare window scene, and even the same shots of the marsh and the house. The movie relies heavily on jump scares, whether it’s The Woman slowly placing her hand through the ceiling, or The Woman slowly placing her hand on Eve’s shoulder, or The Woman slowly approaching poor little Edward, the scary mute kid. I love how Eve looks at her shoulder like “what’s this unfamiliar pressure? Nothing threatening, surely.” I know if even a leaf touched my shoulder, I ‘d jump out of my skin. If it was some rotting hand, I’d probably have a heart attack.
The characters make the usual insane horror movie choices throughout the movie. Eve investigates mysterious noises in the dark basement, chases The Woman through the woods of Eel Marsh House, and even visits the village lunatic to have a quiet tete a tete about who’s killing all these damn kids! Harry continues to show up and be of no help to anybody. Meanwhile, the Woman in Black attaches herself through a haunted doll to Edward, the super scary mute child, and through his wishes kills several children who were bullying him. One of them is wrapped up in BARBED WIRE and tossed into the sea shore, but all the adults are like “aint’ nothing to see here” and don’t move the children until another girl suffocates in a gas mask. Even if they didn’t believe in ghosts, wouldn’t the guardians be a bit suspicious as to how a little kid wrapped himself in BARBED WIRE? I know children were more self-sufficient in the 1940s, but, were they supervised at all?
This is where the movie gets truly bizarre. Instead of having the rest of the movie play out in Eel Marsh House, Eve moves the children to a nearby abandoned airfield where Harry, the not-pilot pilot has been working to trick the Germans. The airfield is too well lit to be a frightening locale. Cliches ensue: Eve and the children hold hands and close their eyes so that they can’t see The Woman, thus inhibiting her powers. But that’s not how her ghostly powers work in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you see her before you die. Only one person has to see her to start her on a killing rampage. All this circle accomplishes is making the characters look crazy.
That’s not the only inconsistency in the second movie. Eve learns about The Woman’s dark past by reading a letter written by her sister, Alice, and left in Eel Marsh house. This same letter was nowhere to be found in the first movie, nor is there any explanation as to why The Woman would have her sister’s letter/plot explanation in the first place, since her main driving force is her hatred for Alice. There’s also the question as to why she would inhabit a doll when she controls the whole damn house. She isn’t a demon who needs a vessel, she’s a ghost with a perfectly large territory to haunt. The Woman shows an odd preference for Edward, the mute child, over the others, saving him to be killed last, when in the first movie she killed indiscriminately. The Woman also follows the children to the abandoned airfield, way outside the boundaries of Crythin Gifford and Eel Marsh House, and then somehow follows Eve and Edward all the way to London. Her sudden boundary breaking makes no sense, especially since it was emphasized in the first movie that if Daniel could escape back to London in time, he could escape The Woman’s grasp.
The actors themselves aren’t a disappointment to the craft. Eve (Phoebe Fox) is charming and relatively intelligent for a horror movie character. Her wide-eyed stare is a welcome distraction from the standard gruff Britishisms used by the other characters. Harry (Jeremy Irvine) is handsome and that’s about it. He’s a non-entity with a troubled past that I really couldn’t care less about. Eve’s troubled past is also unimportant and emphasized way too much. The writers tried to make some connection between death in Eve’s past to death in The Woman’s past, as if that connected them somehow. But The Woman doesn’t give a hoot if Eve gave away her baby. All she wants is a soothing hour in her rocking chair and some instances of child murder.
I had high expectations for this film and I was quite let down. But what should I have expected in a horror movie sequel? They’re always sloppy seconds. I would advise skipping this flick and watching the original twice instead. Twice the horror, for the price of one! Ehhhh, the deals these days!
- We’re supposed to believe that in 1940 Crythin Gifford is abandoned except for one blind lunatic. The reasoning for this is because The Woman literally killed all the children. Come on, British government. I know you’re super busy with your imperial interests, but how did you not notice that an entire village was massacred by a nefarious ghost?
- God bless electricity. It’s not like it’s going to…suddenly…flicker…and…black…out?
- I will never understand ghosts. Why do they hide under beds? Isn’t that uncomfortable? If I was a ghost I would be like “Hi, I’m here to kill you. Thank you for your time.”
- It almost seems like The Woman wants them to stay in her house so that she can keep tormenting them. She’s just acting out for attention! You know what we should do? Move all the children into Eel Marsh House. Reverse psychology, bitch!
- Harry tells Eve “You must have started young.” Yes, Harry. Eve gave birth to 30 children. You’re definitely smart enough to be a pilot.
Does anyone get creeped out when they listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake suite? I don’t understand why it scares me. I watched Barbie Swan Lake on repeat when I was little. Maybe it brainwashed me like in The Manchurian Candidate and I’m only feeling the effects now. What do you want me to do, politicians? Want me to murder Tchaikovsky? He’s already dead!