Friday, January 2, 2015

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoSunTimes (2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoSunTimes (C. Puig) review (O. Henderson) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death [2015] (directed by Tom Harper, screenplay by Jon Croker, story by Jon Croker and Susan Hill) is IMHO a basically safe and appropriately rated PG-13 "scary movie" that "the family" could go see together.

Set during the "Blitz" of early 1941, when London and most of England's cities were being bombed by the Nazis and therefore the cities' children were being evacuated, two teachers, one older a Mrs Jean Hogg (played by Helen McCrory) the wife of a British Officer, the other young, a Miss Eve Perkins (played by Phoebe Fox), are tasked with leading a group of children who have nowhere else to a refuge / school set-up for them by the British government.

So where did the government decide to send this poor group of child evacuees and their adult caretakers?  TO THE SAME CREEPY SEASIDE HOUSE of the first Woman in Black [2012] movie.  Yikes!

Upon arrival, almost everybody who can asks the same question: "Isn't there ANY OTHER PLACE that you could send us?"  And it's not just that the house is incredibly creepy looking with its overgrown vines and gardens.  But the house is surrounded by a tidal bog in which a child had already famously (or infamously) drowned (the child's death forming the back-story of why the house was thought by local townspeople to be haunted in the first place).  So the location was not exactly safe.  BUT all those in authority keep repeating: "There _is_ no place to move all of you to." (The group comprised the two teachers as well as a dozen or so children).  So they're stuck.

Well that could not be good ... and it wasn't.  Because the house _was_ haunted by "the woman in black" who we got to know from the first movie.

Now why was she haunting the place?   Did I mention that there was a child who drowned in the bogg surrounding the place?  She was the child's mother.  The child was born already under somewhat "scandalous circumstances."  The mother was already deemed "of questionable reason" even before the child drowned ... and then he did.  So, it could be said that the mother did not take her child's death "well."

And from that point forward (as we learned in the first installment), the house was not exactly the best place for young children OR for the people responsible for taking care of them.

Now it turns out that that one of the children in the group, Edward (played by Oakley Pendercast) had recently lost his parents in an air-raid, a piece of information that presumably a ghost (living largely on "the other side") could know and since ghost in question, "The Woman in Black," was not necessarily an Evil ghost but one "with a chip on her shoulder" (feeling that she wasn't respected appropriately in this life) ONE COULD EXPECT that the ghost would take a _perhaps sincere_ but _not exactly helpful_ (or appropriate) PROTECTIVE INTEREST in poor Edward.

So when Edward, still somewhat "shell shocked" by the sudden / tragic deaths of his parents, starts to get picked-on (not terribly picked-on but picked-on nonetheless) by other not altogether comprehending kids (THEY'RE KIDS AFTER ALL ...) well THIS UNSTABLE "GHOST WITH UNRESOLVED ISSUES" decides to "get involved" ...

And so, much necessarily ensues ...

Now it turns out that there are _several other characters_ in this story (living) who ALSO have "unresolved issues."  These include Edward, again simply devastated over the loss of his parents.  But they also include the younger teacher Eve, who we learn had a child taken away from her when she was young (she was found pregnant as a teenager and so after she had given birth the child had been promptly taken away from her for adoption).  There was also a British Airman named Harry Burnstow (played by Jeremy Irvine) who Eve and the group met on the train from London to this creepy seaside house, who was also heading in that same direction to re-unite with his unit after being briefly hospitalized after his plane had been shot down (It turns out that his three other crew mates all died in the ensuing crash following the plane's being shot down.  He was the only survivor AND HE FELT VERY GUILTY ABOUT THAT ...).

So there's a lot going on in this story with number of people with either "deep dark secrets" and/or friends / loved ones "on the other side." AND then there's this ghost, who _isn't_ necessarily EVIL but is certainly TORMENTED and perhaps CRAZY _brought_ into the midst of it all ;-).

So this is story, IMHO, _not_ about "a Demon" though CERTAINLY NOT about "Casper the Friendly Ghost."  Instead, it's about a ghost who's both powerful and "troubled."  The person was troubled in life and now remains troubled, indeed, _stuck_ in death.

Sigh, poor ghost ... but again ... much then has to play out ... and it does ... ;-)

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