A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Woman in Black 2, the sequel to The Woman in Black, is set decades later, during World War II. Like the original, the sequel -- which lacks the first movie's star, Daniel Radcliffe -- includes the frightening specter of the titular Woman in Black, who screams, pops up creepily, and leads children to their deaths. Three characters die, two of them children, in disturbing scenes: One is caught in barbed wire, and the other inhales toxic fumes. There's also a repeated flashback to a sad, frantic birth scene and moments when bombs drop on London and the English countryside. But language is mild ("damn," "godforsaken"), and the only sexual content is a brief kiss.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH takes place decades after the original -- during the bombing of London in World War II. Young schoolteacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and headmistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) head to Eel Marsh House with a group of children -- one of whom, little Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), was just orphaned during the Blitz. Eel Marsh House, of course, is haunted by the anything-but-gone ghost of the Woman in Black, who takes a shining to Edward and begins her crusade of leading children to their death ... unless Eve can stop her.
Is it any good?
Director Tom Harper's horror sequel suffers from being unnecessary and also pretty boring in the frights department. Although there are a few jump-worthy moments and predictable scary-movie cliches -- creaky floorboards, terrifying dolls, and a rocking chair that seems to move on its own -- the movie doesn't work as a whole. The actors are all capable -- McCrory (probably best known for playing Narcissa Malfoy) knows how to play a stern-faced "battle axe," Fox is quite adept at being a doe-eyed ingenue who loves her school kids, and Jeremy Irvine is as appealing as always as a young bomber pilot -- but the plot is thin, and the scares are nearly identical to the ones in the first movie.
Once it was unveiled in the second half of the first movie, the Woman in Black's story lost much of its horror movie juice. She's still upset and still wants to kill children as punishment for the death of her long-dead son. Anyone who saw the first film will see almost all the plot twists before they unfold. The ghost's decision to focus on young Edward is obvious the moment it's explained that he's gone selectively mute from the sudden death of his parents. Halfway through the movie, the subplot between the fighter pilot and the school teacher would have made for a better romance than Woman in Black 2 makes for a horror film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this sequel furthers the Woman in Black legend. Do you like the way it continued the story? Do you think there will/should be more installments in the story?
Discuss the difference between psychological horror films and bloodier slasher horror films. Which ones do you prefer, and why? What's scarier -- the stuff you see, or the stuff you don't?
Do you think the violence in The Woman in Black 2 is more upsetting because it involves children? What are some other horror movies that feature possessed or ghostly children?
- In theaters: January 2, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2015
- Cast: Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox
- Director: Tom Harper
- Studio: Relativity Media
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: History, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some disturbing and frightening images, and for thematic elements
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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