Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

2014 / PG-13

Director: Tom Harper

Writers: Jon Croker (screenplay), Susan Hill (story) - Susan also wrote for the first Woman in Black.

Stars: Helen McCroy, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox

I didn't particularly want to watch this movie in the first place - I mean, no Daniel Radcliffe?! What's the point? Plus, I rather enjoyed the first one; It was a decent, visually appealing "haunted house" movie. Eel Marsh House, where all the spooky events take place, is beautiful despite it's decrepit state and its ghostly inhabitants. The long road, which drives from the mainland, through the marshes and to the large house, is the perfect place to make scary things happen. It's an expansive stretch of land so your eye is jumping all over the place, and the area is almost always covered in dense fog. Despite a seemingly perfect setting, this movie relies too much on jump scares and suffers from an uninteresting plot.

The plot takes place during WWII, about 40 years after the events of the first movie, and it centers around a group of orphaned kids who, along with their Head Mistress and a couple other adults, take up residence in Eel March House. It isn't long before the evil, undead inhabitants start popping up at quiet times (a la jump scares) and raising all sorts of hell in and around the house. It's not a very strong plot and there were a couple too many sub plots that seemed to detract from the main story line. 
The acting isn't terrible. In fact, I recognized two other actors from Harry Potter; Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy) and Adrian Rowlins (James Potter in the Deathly Hallow movies). Even the child actors did a fine job, in this movie. But I don't think decent acting is enough to save this movie. The amount of cheap jump scares really took away from this for me. It's really easy to start being able to predict them, after a while. Where the director could have easily used the house, the woods, the marsh - really any part of the setting - to set the tone of unease and build tension to a quality, well thought-out scare, he instead would create a loud noise and have a shadowy figure pop onto the screen. It wasn't very satisfying to this seasoned horror watcher.

As far a sequels go, it's not the worst one that I've seen but it is very far from the best. They would've been better off just leaving the original on it's own and without a follow-up. There wasn't a lot of interesting stuff going on. So....back to some Harry Potter connections, the screenplay writer, Jon Croker, was also a writer on Goblet of Fire and Prisoner of Azkaban

Would I recommend this movie?: Yes. It's crap, to be sure, but if you're looking for a horror movie to watch with your friends that will make you jump, this is definitely a good one for that.