Friday, January 2, 2015

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2015) Review:

There are some stories that are just hard continuing as a complete narrative. Sometimes either the source material or the premise itself just doesn't permit it to move far from its origins. This is mostly due to the limitations that were set for the movie's concept from the start. For The Woman in Black (2012), it was certainly not a horror film to truly disrupt the way viewers saw usually the genre. Its story was simple but creepy simultaneously. A woman had her son taken from her and was sent off to a mental asylum where she vowed to she'd see her son. Since then, anyone who has seen the ghostly figure who represented this woman, lost his or her child too. This all took place in the late 1800s. Leap almost half a century and we now are in 1941, World War II. After several young one's houses were bombed by an aerial strike, a caretaker and her assistant Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) round up the children to be moved to a safer area; secluded from the war. This brings this group to the mansion of the woman in black from the first entry.

Phoebe Fox
This regrettably doesn’t end up being a good time for the people staying there or the viewers watching the screen. One big question audiences may have, is why was this place of first choice? It was stated in the movie that this was the only opportunity. Who authorized such an option? You mean to tell me among no other houses in the UK, this came up first? Did anyone learn or pay attention to what happened to anyone who stayed there like Arthur Kipps from the original? Plus, it's in the middle of open space, the mansion is like a giant target. Also, if this is the place of which people will be living, why does it look like it hasn't been taken care of at all? People understand that to make the house look creepier it has to decay even more than from the last movie but it kind of defeats the purpose when it's supposed to be made available for tenants. Credit must be given though to the setting of the story. Having it set in WWII is different and the further decay and abandonment of the mansion does make it look worse (in a good way). Time has a way of bringing out the mystery in something when it ages.

Dismally like other sequels, the script also suffers from unexplained occurrences and a lack of connection to its parent. One example is of physical objects being transported through other solid physical objects. No reason given. Also, why wasn't Arthur Kipps given a brief mention? All the plot devices from the original were touched but not Kipps. Or what of significance of actor Ned Dennehy play? There really wasn't. And because the execution plays out much like its predecessor, the mystery doesn't exist and neither do the supporting elements. This is the sad part because if any viewer is seeing this to see a different story or continuation, they won't get that. Anyone who hasn't seen the first, probably will be just as creeped out as if they watch the first. Aside from a few minor changes in how a person can protect himself or herself from this vengeful specter, nothing else felt new. Jon Croker who hasn't written for a single horror film shows how much he recycled from the first.

It also shows in the imagery and the type of horror the screenplay reprocessed. For his first time theatrical release, cinematographer George Steel was able to replicate the visual style of the first but did not improve it or make it his own. The scare and horror factor to this movie is overdone with numerous jump scares. Some of which are effective, while others are tirelessly trying to catch somebody off guard. There are only a few other positives to find praiseworthy in this feature. The best part were the characters. Phoebe Fox tries her best and for her specific character shows a lot of courage. This is important for feminine roles, it actually makes them more likable than male leads. Jeremy Irvine (War Horse (2011)) who plays a pilot ends up joining the group as well and gives a human performance too. The rest of the supporting cast work but are not beyond the two actors mentioned prior.

She has to find a more welcoming wardrobe
Special effects looked decent too. There was actually less blood in this entry than the last. Yet, the make-up effects looked credible and the woman in black herself is still creepy as she was before. Lastly is Marco Beltrami's composition to the film. Although it may sound negative, Beltrami also replayed his main theme from the last entry for this installment. However, this is one recycled element that is acceptable for a couple reasons. For those who saw the first, the reoccurring theme should be just as effectively bonechilling as it was before. Also, the main theme establishes the franchise's tone and trademark tune. All important if one wants to make a successful series of films. This isn't all though. Beltrami continues to make new tracks for this second approach. Again, he uses his sad sounding cellos and music boxes and creates different themes for other scenes. I say well done. Too bad it couldn't have worked for the other half of the production.

Its new cast of actors, different time setting and music continue to show this franchise has the potential but this time is squandered by over used jump scares, disconnected writing and other unexplained events. It's not awful but as a sequel to a decent first entry, it's just average.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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