No previous version of THE WOMAN IN BLACK was designed to carry a sequel, so instead of leaving well enough alone, they made one anyway.
It's 1941, and a gaggle of schoolchildren orphaned or otherwise inconvenienced by the London Blitz (particularly the freshly-mute and highly 'troubled' Edward) are placed in the charge of Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and the far sterner Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory). The children are kept 'safe' at the decrepit Eel Marsh House because it's apparently the only game in town.
Well, Eve's got a haunted past of her own... she has a son that she was never allowed to see. And the handsome young bomber pilot that just happens to befriend her has a haunted past of his own... he likes to wear glitter and recite dirty limericks to sheep.
And the Woman in Black, as we already know, has designs on the children... she's going to claim them one by one and force them to take tap-dancing lessons for a special stage show in hell... and the only way Eve and the Hogg can counteract this awful plan is to provide emergency cha-cha lessons. But the floorboards are weak and every time they try to cha-cha they threaten to fall through. And there's a blind guy who would have been played by Elisha Cook, Jr. back in the 70s.
Remember when Homer Simpson was bored by the movie he was watching and just made up one of his own? Maybe it was something like that today.
Approximately thirty "boo" scares and maybe ONE that kind of works. Some potentially interesting set pieces (there's an airfield that isn't what it seems and there's some sort of underwater zombie mountain tableau)... but since nobody reminded director Tom Harper that it's actually okay to let the audience SEE these things once and a while, it's all for nothing.
Yes, it's supposed to be "goth and gloomy." But the previous film knew how to contrast this mood with the spark of real life. This prequel is NON-STOP must, fog and shadows, occasionally interrupted by the lighting of a candle or some such so that an eerie face can be revealed in the background or something like that. And the potentially traumatic/offensive sight of child suicide (an inescapable and major theme of the original, handled with undeniable impact) is treated so distantly (yeah, the 'red thread' sequence MIGHT have built into something if they'd taken off the gloves) that you scarcely care about even THAT.
This ill-advised sequel is a complete and utter flop-thud... now go back and tell me how bad you thought THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN or THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA were. You will CRAVE even the least-loved Hammer classics after trying to sit through this.
P.S. In my zeal to dispose of this movie and flush it from my memory, I neglected to mention one of the most glaring cliches this movie used without having any actual USE for... creepy dolls. See, there's a room full of creepy, broken, worn-out toys and dolls. Not one of them ever looked attractive and they all would have given nightmares to children. Now, they don't DO anything, and they don't have anything to DO with the story (unlike almost any OTHER recent movie to use creepy dolls). But they're there. So the ghost can give Edward a little doll that looks like Buster Brown. Buster Brown doesn't do anything, but when everybody exits Eel Marshmallow Smores Bounce-House en masse, Edward is made to leave Buster Brown behind. And when they get to the airfield, Buster Brown shows up again. Just so you know it isn't over. As if it could have been over at that point.
Oh, and the glitter-sheep-bomber goof sees what he presumes to be Edward's silhouette. And he keeps crawling towards it, saying "It's going to be okay... it's going to be okay... I have shiny things..." Now, when he actually GETS to the form of the little boy, do you think it's going to turn around and reveal itself to be a scared, repentant Edward ready to be taken back to safety, or do you think it's going to be a nasty ghostie who goes "BWAAAAHAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAA!!!!" at the clownie?
Hint: it turns out the way you've seen umpty-humpty-dumpty-fifty-billion times already.
And I'm STILL not sure I've gotten across how weary I got of this movie about five minutes in and how it never got any better.
If you missed the hint? Skip it.
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