Today: April 22, 2024

Season Of The Witch

This time of year is for films that do not challenge the intellect so much as wow us and take us on exciting adventures. Forget anything of any real substance and instead we are asked to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Nicholas Cage and Ron
Pearlman go on a medieval road trip.

This
time of year is for films that do not challenge the intellect so much as wow us
and take us on exciting adventures. Forget anything of any real substance and
instead we are asked to buckle up and enjoy the ride. With this in mind Season
Of The Witch would appear to be timed to perfection. It certainly knows how to
pull off a set-piece but unfortunately has a plot so wafer thin you wonder if
it has been conjured up by a fun fair palm reader, rather than an all powerful
witch.

Behmen
(Cage) and Felson (Pearlman) are Crusaders who grow tired
of the blood spilling ways of religious war. Deserting their vows they return
home only to find a plague killing their countrymen. The source of this plague
is attributed to a young girl (Foy)
who is said to be a witch. Anxious that she be given a fair trial the church
orders Behmen and Felson to escort the girl to a monastery where the monks will
decide her fate. But the road that leads them there is fraught with danger and
their resolve will be tested at every obstacle.

The
film seems to struggle early on with what it wants to be. At first hinting at a
sword and sandal epic while in the blood splattered sand of the Crusade, before
moving into a moody period piece surrounding the outbreak of the plague and
finally letting all hell break loose in a big old show-down between good and
evil. Suffice to say that although the three sections do not always gel
together they are fun in their own way. Part of the issue is it feels like it
should be a fun comic-book romp but takes itself a far too seriously.

Like
the fantasy craze of the 1980s, with films akin to Krull (1983) and Hawk The
Slayer
(1981), Season Of The Witch would benefit from being aimed at the
fun adventures stakes rather than the brooding atmospherics. There are moments
when it feels like it might be a gothic horror, certainly Christopher Lee’s fleeting appearance hints at a Hammer Horror
ideal, but the themes on offer are too heavy handed. Indeed when it does dip
into the more over the top extravagance it could almost be a Sleepy Hollow (1999) minus Tim Burton’s quirk. Alas, as it is it
feels cobbled together.

Where
it does work though is in the set pieces. Gone
In 60s Seconds
(2000) director, Dominic Sena, is dealing with things that
move considerably slower than the cars of that film and as such is able to
choreograph more tension from the unfolding events. A scene involving a
decrepit bridge, which must be crossed to reach the isolated monastery, raises
the stakes. Meanwhile some of the sword fights have a fluid energy to them and
allow for some fun moments of beheading and blood gushing

Rarely
do two actors with as well weathered and chiselled faces as Pearlman and Cage
team up and together they certainly meet the gravel voiced quota. Unfortunately
while Pearlman is always fun to watch Cage seems to be phoning it in. These
days he flits between the over the top eccentricities of a Bad Lieutenant 2009) or
the more wooden version on display here.

Not
a film to get overly excited about, Season Of The Witch fails to cast a real
spell but there are moments of mindless fun that will have fans of fantasy
mildly entertained.

To Pre-Order Season Of The Witch On DVD Click Here Or On Blu-Ray Click Here

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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