Season Of The Witch

Movie review by Neil Sadler

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy, Ulrich Thomsen, Stephen Graham, Robbue Sheehan, Christopher Lee

Director: Dominic Sena

It’s such a shame that I am not rating this film in terms of silliness because SEASON OF THE WITCH would be a solid “6 out of 6 stars” in those terms.

The film tells the story of two crusading knights who sicken of the hypocrisy of their mission and go AWOL. On the run they come across a plague-ridden town and agree to take a witch who is supposed to have caused the disease for her trial and exorcism at nearby monastery.

Naturally it is not that simple but thankfully not too complicated. What we have here is a Hammer Horror in all but name but with a lot more money thrown at it. Sadly none of that money seemed to go on the script, which barely raises a smile, let alone many scares. What laughs there are, are generally to be had at the expense of the ludicrous accents and strange modernisms of the script. Thankfully Hammer is making a comeback and hopefully it will produce better films than this.

Nicholas Cage seems to revel in these turkeys and gets to sport another in a series of silly haircuts. As an actor he can be revolutionary but too often he chooses to appear in cheap unimaginative fantasy pieces like this. Having watched him recently in KICK ASS, there are times when his laid back style works well in action films. Here he is totally miscast, convincing neither as a crusading knight or troubled Christian.

Sadder still to see the likes of Christopher Lee, Ron Perlman, Stephen Graham and Robert Sheehan (from the excellent MISFITS) wasting their god-given talents on this demonically bad dialogue. Ron Perlman is far better in this type of film than they deserve and manages to be strangely believable despite making no attempt at an appropriate accent. Robert Sheehan could be one to watch and is one of the better things about this film, but he needs to be choosier with his parts in future.

Not that this isn’t fun in places. The effects are all passably good and the pace is pretty brisk. However most of the horror is pretty bloodless which makes for many unsatisfying effects. Gore doesn’t make a film scary but unfortunately you need a bit more craft than is shown here to keep the atmosphere going and the bumps and screams coming. A scene where the group are attacked by wolves in a foggy forest starts well, but is so badly edited that it becomes hard to tell or care what is happening.

And for a film that spends much of it’s first half hour showing battle after battle in various locations and climates, you would have hoped that the battles would at the least have some energy to them. But they are badly staged, filmed and acted throughout.

Vaguely enjoyable if you can suspend disbelief and your critical eye, sadly this is a bit of a waste of talent all round and is likely to disappear in a puff of smoke.

1 out of 6 stars

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