Blu-ray Review: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

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The first Woman in Black was a suspenseful, stylish, tasteful ghost story anchored by a fine performance by Daniel Radcliffe. It told a complete story and didn’t really leave the door open for a sequel. But the horror genre loves to capitalize on a hit, so now we have The Woman in Black 2: Angle of Death. It didn’t strike pay dirt at the box office, with a fairly paltry $26 million (U.S.). It’s not hard to see why, as the sequel is unremittingly dull for its entire 98 minutes. This is the best they could come up with?

The first film’s early 20th century setting has been replaced by World War II era. Amidst the German airstrikes against England, school teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) transplants her young students to the country village of Crythin Gifford. This is where the action in the first film took place and, unfortunately for Eve and the kids, not much has changed. Laying low in the same house which caused so much trouble for Radcliffe in part one, Eve quickly discovers the place is haunted. Just like in the first film, kids become compelled to attempt suicide.

TWIB01 (380x254).jpgFor one thing, most of the big jump moments throughout Angel of Death turn out to be fake-outs. You can only cry wolf so many times, so eventually we don’t trust that director Tom Harper is really trying to frighten us. Not to continually compare the previous film to this one (thought it’s hard not to, given the extraordinarily wide difference in the quality between the two), but Radcliffe’s character had a well-told, emotionally-focused back story. Here, Eve has a back story involving a child she was forced to give up after having it at a young age. But there’s no real satisfaction in this tragic past; it doesn’t connect well with the story. As for “the woman” herself (Leanne Best), we learned her whole story in the first film. Now she’s just a generic ghost.

The cinematography in The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is about as dark as you can get yet still see something. George Steel’s digital work here so dark, it often makes it frustrating to see what’s happening. I guess that was intentional to make it scarier. Whatever the case, the black levels on the Blu-ray transfer are consistently deep. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is everything one would want in a modern horror film. The “scare” moments definitely provide a bass-heavy jolt. The overall dynamics are excellent throughout, with an effectively drastic contrast between the quiet moments and the more action-oriented ones.

TWIB09 (380x260).jpgDon’t look to the Blu-ray for a ton of special features. There are two featurettes: “Pulling Back the Veil,” a 14-minute ‘making of’ and “Chilling Locations,” a five-minute look at the shooting locations. There’s also a deleted scene. The Blu-ray package includes a downloadable digital copy as well.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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