Fourteenth century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.Fourteenth century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.Fourteenth century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.
This time, Cage doesn't play a magician, but a crusader who, having witnessed too much bloodshed, runs off to Europe with his fellow soldier and best friend (Ron Perlman). They discover a plague-ridden landscape where witch hunts are an everyday routine, and eventually make it to a village where they encounter a priest (Stephen Campbell Moore) who needs help taking a potential witch (Claire Foy) to a monastery, where she will face trial. Assisted by a loyal knight (Ulrich Thomsen) and an eager youngster (Robert Sheehan), they begin a perilous journey that will test their faith in every possible way.
The storyline certainly had enough spark to produce an interesting movie, but Sena messes with the final product by not knowing what to aim for: depending on the section, Season of the Witch is a historical drama, a thriller with hints of the supernatural or, at worst, a clumsy meld of horror and fantasy (then again, what should we expect from a film that shares its title with the third Halloween flick?). Setting aside factual inaccuracies, namely the fact that the Crusades, witch hunts and black plague didn't occur simultaneously (and what's with Cage's sudden bout of modern cursing in a Medieval setting?), the uneven tone kicks in after a moderately promising first half, leaving room for basic plotting that culminates in a ghastly genre switch and a most annoying "twist".
The acting is a similar mixed bag: Cage does his usual generic blockbuster shtick, which jars considerably with the gravitas coming from Thomsen and, to a lesser extent, Sheehan, both of whom are taking the film far more seriously than required. A cameo by Christopher Lee - who actually looks more like Max von Sydow - livens things up despite its brevity (even Tim Burton has given him more screen time), and the joy of seeing him and Perlman - lovable as always - in the same movie could make up for the rest if the second half of the picture wasn't so shoddy. As for the witches (yes, they do appear in a few scenes), well... they look like cheaper versions of Doctor Who's Weeping Angels, minus the scares.
Season of the Witch could have been interesting, but it comes off as a bland blockbuster with very little to go for it. Sure, it's got Ron Perlman head-butting a demon, but is that enough? Afraid not.
- Jan 18, 2011