Season of the Witch (2011) - QUICK HIT! I don't really want to spend a lot of time talking about this film, but I saw it the other night on Netflix streaming and gave it a whirl. Opening scenes are important and the opening of this film is all about the book of Solomon. Witches are being taken from a village for hanging and drowning. A priest oversees it and after the poor women are killed he requests they be pulled up so he can do a ritual from the book to keep demons from entering them and bringing them back to life. Unfortunately on this day the soldiers are tired and leave him to do that work himself. You can guess what happens. So we know this scene has not been put here for no reason so it is bound to come up again later in the film.
Set in the 14th century or so the crusades are in full swing. We are introduced to our hero's the buddy team of Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman). We get to hear there buddy banter as the compete for the right to drink free by slaughtering their way through multiple fictional battles.Whoever kills more enemies drinks for free, which is how we do it at our family gatherings. The sequence may be a bit long I think it had five battles highlighted and is designed to show that these are quality fighters, the brutality of battle and to highlight that they are fighting on the side of good. The Gulf of Edremit 1332, The siege of Tripoli 1334, The Battle of Imbros 1337, The Battle of Artah 1339, Battle of Smyrna 1344, the final battle is the the crusader breaking into a city. Some of these battles never took place in history others like the battles of Imbros and Artah took place at different times but the idea is to show they are seasoned veterans of the crusades as well as how the crusades went from war with the armies of Islam to corrupted slaughter of innocents. Finally when ordered into a city where Behmen in the fog of war drives his sword through a young woman. As the smoke clears he and Felson see that they have been slaughtering women and children. A personal crisis of conscience that leads to their decision to desert the army.
As they head back toward home, a month into that trip the two men come across a farm where they first see the black plague. The excellent special effect make for a gruesome scene.
When they next reach a town they see more of the plague. They are captured as deserters and brought before the plague infected leader of the town. There offered the task of helping take a convicted witch to a monastery 200 leagues away, where a book of Solomon exists that can deal with her magic. It is thought she is creating the plague and the verses in the book of Soloman can be used to negate the magic. Even though our heroes refuse it is inevitable that it is going to happen, there would be no movie! So with a priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), a young knight wannabe (Robert Sheehan), another veteran knight (Ulrich Thomson) and a criminal (Stephen Graham) who happens to know the way the two men with witch (Claire Foy) in caged wagon spend the next 40 minutes of the film on the road. There is much to do about how the witch will use her powers to turn one man against another but remarkable this does not really happen. Sure they have their doubts about each other but the road is long and the way treacherous so stress levels are high. I am not saying that this is not an interesting part of the film, it is a good enough story. Only two characters die before they reach the abbey so not too much chaos is wrought. The climax is exciting with some good creatures and fighting and saving the world. Thirty minutes of taking care of the business at hand. We know because Nick Cage is in the film that he gets to have that moment of doubt before finally winning. This movie is really not bad but does a recap thing that I did not like very much as Behmen has a moment of recognition of her plan. You do not have to explain the breadcrumbs that the writer Bragi F Schut left on the road. He wrote the really underrated and short lived show Threshold. Director Dominic Sena does a decent job and in the end I recommend this as a fair view. Filmed primarily on sets it has a strange old time horror movie feel, lit primarily in blues it can be dark at times. The music is good in that it is not overwhelming. So give it a view.
Rating (5.7) 5.0 and up are recommended but some more recommended than others.