The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death 2014

© Relativity Media

Don’t look! You mustn’t look.” – Hermit Jacob

That one line spoken in the film is by far the best attribute, recommendation, suggestion, warning that this nubain-eater picked from the bore-fest that this atrocity of a film is. Another thing is Hollywood completely out of new ideas, or does Thanos limit their visibility beyond the herculean structure of the purple titan, letting sequential capitalism work its way into everything ‘cinema’? This is a sequel to a remake; I mean how desperate are these guys? Director Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders; TV Series – 3 episodes, 2013) is mainly a director of ‘shorts’, those and made for TV films, with three feature-length films to his name. Yes, this petty film, Angel of Death did get nominated for ‘best picture by Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, but what does that even mean? What is the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards? I could be ignorant and the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards just might mean something in the film circles, but this is the first time this sinnerman has heard of the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

Yes, he was also nominated for the prestigious BAFTA for his short film, Cubs, 2006.

Yes, he also won the BAFTA Award (Scotland) for the feature film Wild Rose, 2018, an accolade that he shared with writer Nicole Taylor and producer Faye Ward, and was nominated by the British Independent Film Awards for, again, Wild Rose. Yes, he won the Best Picture award at the Encounters International Film Festival, for Cubs, 2006, and if I had not bothered to research some, I would not have known the Encounters International Film Festival from the freak festival/carnival in Rob Zombie‘s 31, 2016 had I not identified that the latter is backed by the BBC itself; BBC New Filmmakers Award.

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However, does that change anything? Do awards and accolades and the approval of critics and peers matter when deciding what to watch and what to let go? In my humble opinion they do, but only as much. Say, if it were an Oscar win or two, perhaps Harper would’ve been taken more seriously, it is only a matter of preconditioning and the fact that the Oscars are now ninety-one years old and The Academy has a reputation of strictly presenting an award on merit, and not sexual orientation or clout. Well, at least that’s what we’re made to believe.

For 91 years, accounting and consulting firm PwC has enjoyed a reputational boon from handling the balloting process at the Academy (of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) Awards. Also because the people voting for the awards are all industry members, who themselves are winners of plenty of awards for their contribution to the film industry, awards that were given out at a time when being colored or being gay did not affect the decision during the ballotting, and pulling off a Brando, or boycotting the Oscars only to later return after having fought with a bear and surviving the harsh, extremely cold conditions of Canada, in Kananaskis Country and Bow Valley in the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary, Alberta, where The Revenant, 2015 was primarily shot.

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Or not complying with the protocol and making lengthy speeches, which are restricted to a time limit of forty-five seconds; with Greer Garson completely disregarding the restriction and going on for six full minutes, which is an eternity, once the exit music cues in, for her performance in the highly acclaimed film, Mrs. Miniver, 1942; which also bagged the Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler) and Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), followed by Gary Oldman, who gave a three-minute speech after winning in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the film, The Darkest Hour, 2017, followed by Adrien Brody, accepting his award for his role in The Pianist, 2002 by Roman Polanski and ignoring the flashing “Time’s up!” screen during his speech but also asked the producers to turn the exit music off when it came on a minute later, saying: “One second, please. Cut it out.

Georgie from IT: Chapter One, 2017

I digress. Anyhow, so do the awards mean anything? Or are they just there for a stamp of approval and a certain high-handedness, elitist leverage that the casual movie-goer prefers over what he/she may really want to watch?

Amelia Pidgeon stars in Relativity Media’s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. © Angelfish Films Limited 2014 Photo Photo Credit: Nick Wall

Having watched the Best Pictures (Oscars) gives us a certain feeling of having been a part of something significant, an achievement, no matter how tedious and artsy, doesn’t matter if the viewer had more fun watching a B-movie with Dolph Lundgren as the guy who single-handedly takes care of a sex trafficking ring, like how it was in The Last Blood, or Mickey Rourke in Ashby, 2015, where he plays a CIA assassin who befriends a young boy who is a rather curious little brat, just like the duo is the American psychological thriller Apt Pupil, 1998, Brad Renfro and Ian McKellen, with post-X-Men, post-#meetoo, pre-The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer as the director. Further, the highly controversial but prominent film, Tras el cristal (In a Glass Cage), 1986, controversial for mixing themes of mixing Nazism, pedophilia, torture, and homosexuality, went unnoticed by the Academy, settling for the 30th anniversary of the Teddy Awards at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival in 2016, almost after thirty long years. Similarly, The Big Lebowski, 1998; American Psycho, 2000; The Big Heat, 1953; Bringing Up Baby, 1938; Don’t Look Now, 1973, amongst forty-seven other titles went unattended by the Academy.

It’s easy to assume that certain films don’t get nominated because they’re not what Oscar voters would usually go for, but there have been some surprises in the past. For example, pretty much every new superhero film earns a nomination thanks to the technical or makeup categories, while random animated films are acknowledged most likely because of the low number on offer in a certain year. This means films like DC’s Suicide Squad may have been mauled by the critics, but still get recognized by the Academy (it went on to win), which is ridiculous when you consider classics such as Don’t Look Now or The King of Comedy didn’t even get recognized.*

I strongly believe that it is because of the terrifying, intimidating, circumspect approach to the hashtag now looming over him, that Singer is now an almost outcast, with his latest project, a remake of Red Sonja being shelved and even when the film was picked again to be re-made, Singer was fired from his position as a producer. If it weren’t for the allegations and the hashtag, he would still be working in Hollywood, and not consigned to low-budget film hell.

The politics of entertainment are as vicious as any, and the biggest irony of fame and fortune is the reversal of it all, the market sentiment can now turn on a dime or the backside. Well, that was that a short analysis of what made infuriated Brando and Glenn Close with seven nominations and not a single win.

Coming back to this tedious waste of film (assuming it was shot on film and not digital), a sequel to an already wearisome and wounded and derivative, The Woman in Black, 2012; Why does Tom Harper not understand that a three-generation old infantile fear of under-the-bed, over-the-sheets scare will not get the intended response from an audience who grew up (a generation or two later) getting nightmares of women being tied to ironing boards with barbed wires or getting the crabs from a chick that kills by doing just that?
It will not get any response for that matter; maybe a yawn or checking WhatsApp every time Mother Abbess from The Sound of Music, 1965 shows up.

Jeremy Irvine and Phoebe Fox star in Relativity Media’s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. © Angelfish Films Limited 2014 Photo Photo Credit: Nick Wall

Angel of Death does not scare, not one bit, even with it’s fifteen million dollar budget, three writers and four producers. It does not even build up an atmosphere of anything remotely scary, with three musicians dedicated to scoring the film and with a Harper regular, George Steel (The Aeronauts, 2019) in charge of the cinematography, which falls flat as soon as the first jump scare is done with. I’m sure a whole lot of you and especially the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, calling the film “Atmospheric and visually sharp”, are not in agreement with yours truly in my interpretation, but dude, I’ve watched quite a few ‘horror films’ and after thirty-odd years I feel my opinion could matter and save a lot of you from wasting time on this bore-fest, which is devoid of building tension and creating genuine scares, like perhaps the superior, The Witch, 2015 by Robert Eggers (my new favorite horror director) or Gretel & Hansel, 2020 or maybe, The Cleansing Hour, 2019. Now, the films mentioned are truly scary and make you, the keen viewer, very uncomfortable. What Angel of Death does is make the viewer wish he/she had gotten more than just one can of Red Bull.

Phoebe Fox stars in Relativity Media’s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. © Angelfish Films Limited 2014 Photo credit: Nick Wall

It does not evoke any emotion in any form. This film is so bad that the filmmakers should be thrown in jail for depriving 870 million people of their daily requirement of food in the face of extreme, underground, snuff, poverty; not counting the 200,000 people with vultures following them in Akobo, Sudan. Alright, it does have a few redeeming moments but those are washed away and are not enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing. The Woman in Black II is just bad. It’s ugly and boring, a toxic combination that means the film’s highly fetishized mythos of wicked folklore doesn’t even have the exciting tingle of the wicked or the taboo. The film amounts to an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment, Angel of Death is a product of shameless pandering. It aims for subversive, curious, and stylish, and it succeeds somewhat during the first act, I’ll give it that, with the sight of a woman looking out from one of the windows of that Eel Marsh House, the isolated manor house on an island in the marshes that Usher built, and then Edgar Allan Poe went on to deconstruct the mansion, literally, with acumen and a contemporary sense of the macabre, calling it The Fall of the House of Usher (pub: 1839).

Phoebe Fox stars in Relativity Media’s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. © Angelfish Films Limited 2014 Photo Credit: Nick Wall

Here we, the keen viewers are not even extended the courtesy of a single reliable scare. It just goes on and on with the main characters hallucinating half the time. The rest of the time they are pretending to be scared of something that the three writers couldn’t properly flesh out or give a back-story to, even if their lives depended on it.
No, seriously the bastards should be serving life. Hammer Films, among seven other production companies, should be snatched off their slices of the half-baked cake also and forced to watch their own film on repeat.

Eel Marsh House in Relativity Media‘s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. © Angelfish Films Limited 2014 Photo Credit: Nick Wall

But here’s the thing; it earned twenty-seven million dollars, with a cumulative worldwide gross of USD forty-eight million! This review doesn’t matter in the face of that much money, heck, it doesn’t change anything for Harper or Hammer Films, which, I have a feeling will have another sequel since The Guardian is also full of praise for the film with wasted potential.
Who is more stupid, Harper, or the people who went to watch this piece of Quentin Tarantino‘s melting balls from Planet Terror? Fuck, even that was more disgustingly amusing than the entire 98 minutes of this stupid, stupid carbuncle.

Phoebe Fox stars in Relativity Media’s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. © Angelfish Films Limited 2014 Photo Credit: Nick Wall

This gets half a nod (going on the Harry nod) for saving the sheep.

Don’t, please just don’t let them earn another cent by watching this crap, even if for free.


*Jacob Stolworthy @Jacob_Stol Sunday 09 February 2020, writing for Independent.

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