“THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH” (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
It’s not easy being a sequel, especially when you’re the sequel to an acclaimed remake of an acclaimed film based off an acclaimed novel and produced by the grandaddy of horror houses, Hammer. But in any case, being a sequel such as THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 is even harder considering the nature of the first film, which took stock in hard-to-replicate environmental scares instead of cheap jump scares. And while THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH isn’t quite as effective as it should be, the film still makes an admirable and classy attempt at capturing the literal and figurative spirit of the first film.
With a story by the original WOMAN IN BLACK novella writer, Susan Hill, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH takes place 40 years after the first film and follows a school of displaced children during World War II who seek refuge in the mansion of our titular terror. Meanwhile, one of the tortured teachers at said school attempts to come to terms with her past while seeking friendship from a recently orphaned boy and romance from an anxious military pilot. However, the Woman in Black has a design of her own, setting her sights on the darker impulses of the boy.
Now, as a film, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 works just fine, sporting a gorgeous and epic production design while carrying an engaging plot and strong performances. However, as a horror film, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 definitely puts the scares in the backseat, weeding out 2 or 3 well-earned scares out of a metaphorical minefield of jump scares. The film nails the atmosphere of the first WOMAN IN BLACK, but director Tom Harper can’t quite wield it as a cinematic weapon as effectively as original WIB director James Watkins, instead focusing on the dramatic elements to craft a strong film but ultimately a lackluster chiller.
Fortunately, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 does receive an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The video transfer is absolutely gorgeous, with the slick digital cinematography still popping off the scene with crisp picture and vivid colors. Likewise, the audio transfer is impressively dynamic, if a bit too bombastic during the many shriek-driven startling scares.
Unfortunately, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 is quite light in the features department, offering only a pair of featurettes and a single deleted scene. The deleted scene, while interesting and harmless, is too pedestrian and stilted, which makes its excision all the more understandable. The first making-of featurette is the most impressive of the two, giving insight into Tom Harper’s process and the scope of the prediction, while the second featurette is a 5-minute look into the locations of the filming and is strictly technical in nature. Other than that, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 only features a theatrical trailer, which is much less impressive off of the big screen.
Overall, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH works predominantly as a drama with Gothic elements as opposed to an out-and-out horror film, and horror fans likely won’t find much resonation in the disposable jump scares as opposed to the first film. However, for fans and curious audiences, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 won’t find a presentation better than its Blu-ray release, with stunning picture and excellent audio quality throughout the disc, even if fans will be left wanting in regards to the features.