Movie Review: “The Woman in Black: Angel of Death” -The Woman in Bland

Written by Angela January 15, 2015

WIB1Sequels don’t always have to suck. Take “The Silence of the Lambs,” for instance, or “Aliens”–both very awesome movies that draw upon the key elements of their progenitor and further them through the telling of a whole new stand-alone story. Since both titles significantly broaden the universes of the original films before them, their existence in this world is justified. But since it broadens nothing and there is no rhyme or reason for its ever being conceived in the first place,“The Woman in Black: Angel of Death” (dir. Tom Harper) is not one such sequel.

“Angel of Death” takes place in the midst of Blitzkrieg-plagued WWII England. A posse of snot-nosed school children, chaperoned by the blithe Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox), board a train to take refuge in an old house on the moors. It’s lucky that house just happens to be the exact same house wherein the events of the first film took place, or else we’d have ourselves an entirely different movie altogether (trans-dimensional wardrobes, anyone?). Blah blah, the house is haunted by the infamous Woman in Black, who singles out a particularly disturbed child while driving Eve to question her own sanity and life choices, blah blah. Fake-out scares abound, there’s one slightly unsettling moment (shown in the trailer anyway), and before you know it the credits are rolling and congratulations, you’ve wasted twelve precious dollars on two of the drabbest Daniel Radcliffe-less hours of your life.

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“She never forgives, she always comes back.”

To be fair, “The Woman in Black” movies at the very least make for an interesting watch for die-hard fans of British horror and perhaps even of British history. Just like James Watkin’s first 2012 film, “Angel of Death” possesses admirable scenery and set designs that succeed in capturing the desired look and feel of the given period. The atmosphere of the story’s haunted town is classically spooky with just the right amount of fog and dim lighting, while the decrepit abode of our gloomy villainess crumbles fantastically. Even the costumes in this feature are worth mentioning. From the faded mid-war garb of the school-children to the diaphanous black gown of the ghost in question, it’s evident that designer Annie Symons was having a ball doing her research.

That being said, the overall effectiveness of the film as a piece of horror pretty much speaks for itself when the only positive thing I can think to mention is the rich detailing of scenery and costumes. So little actually goes down in this movie that I couldn’t help but zone in on those two components for lack of anything better to watch.

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“There is no escaping the Woman in Black.”

“Angel of Death” isn’t offensively awful, but it definitely isn’t good, either. The story is monotonous and the scares are, for lack of a better word, impotent. Since this happens to be a horror film revolving around a female antagonist, the tired “abandoned child” trope rears its greasy little head as it is inevitably wont to do and proves yet again that children in horror films are as distractingly bad at acting as they are un-scary. As for the adults, the script steers them lazily towards a theme of trauma and coping during the war, but ultimately they wind up stranded on an island of mundane predictability. In essence, “Angel of Death” is the humdrum runoff of a remake that wasn’t very good to begin with (sorry, Radcliffe fanciers). This film has no terror, no humour, no originality, and above all, no raison d’etre beyond looking kind of cool.

On the other hand, the original film on which this meager attempt at a franchise is based is worth a watch. Behold, the link to the BBC’s 1989 spectacle, “The Woman in Black,” directed by Herbert Wise, which needs neither CGI nor Hollywood branding to create some entertaining scares. Those who bothered to see “Angel of Death” will be pleasantly recompensed for their trouble should they view this classic version, while everyone else with the common sense to stay at home will find equal satisfaction.

OVERALL RATING: 2/10

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About Angela

Angela McInnes is an English major and up-and-coming horror film aficionado. To her, happiness is a bottle of rum and a creature-feature on a Saturday night.

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