Season of the Witch (2011)
(15) Running Time: 95 minutes
Director: Dominic Sena
Writer: Bragi F Schut
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy, Stephen Graham
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Nicholas Cage plays a feared soldier of God in this swashbuckling fantasy come horror adventure. Going by the name of Behmen, Cage and his trusted right-hand man Felson (Ron Perlman) fight for God by killing anyone they are ordered to. The film opens with one big onslaught on supposedly God-less people after another, and Behmen and Felson seem to relish in their brutality, brandishing their swords and running head on into battle before anyone else. They even have time to joke and laugh at how they plan to kill 600 men each, and the winner of the ‘competition’ has his drinks bought for him. If you have ever heard the saying ‘love your work’, here it is brandishing a giant sword! As expected though, one wrong decision by their religious leader leaves the pair with huge doubts. Behmen drives a sword through an innocent woman’s stomach, not even paying attention, he ferociously just swings his weapon at any who stand in his way, only this time he looks up, see’s the woman and a look of disgust is on his face. Suddenly he doubts his leader’s decision, and does not believe this particular town is infested with the Witches he has been told, and he fears this is just a pillage that has got out of hand and it needs to stop. And so, they leave, Behmen and Felson head off and desert the Army, a crime which is punishable by death!
They travel together through the countryside and around the coast until they decide to stop for a rest, only problem is the town they have stopped in is infested with plague, and a local Witch is being blamed for it. Upon spotting their swords, a local informs the authorities and the pair are caught and locked up, with the Witch in the cell next to them. Still having his doubts, Behmen looks at the woman and declares “she is not a Witch”, he see’s the marks on her bruised and battered body, and it seems she has been tortured into confessing something which she is not. In order to save themselves from the death sentence, Behmen and Felson are offered the chance to redeem their actions, by taking the Witch across a treacherous journey to a remote Abbey, a place where the Witch can be given a fair trial (by order of Behmen) and the powerful Priests their can be the one’s to perform the necessary rite’s in order to find out if indeed this woman is a Witch. Behmen and Felson agree to the task and ask for a guide, in the form of a local wheeler and dealer Hagamar (Stephen Graham) who is himself locked up and awaiting punishment. Off they all head on an adventure that will test their strengths, loyalty and faith.
The cast all ham it up a bit really, and to be honest you’d expect nothing less. This simply cannot be taken very seriously but there is a lot of fun to be had. Good old fashioned good vs evil epic’s like this can never really fail as they are a no brainer type movie that allows you to simply ‘switch off’ for 90 minutes. There is nothing really great about this film either though so don’t expect the next Krull or even another Solomon Kane. Season of the Witch has a nice charm about it, and Nic Cage seems to be having the time of his life swishing and swooping his big sword around. The current trend for his crazy hair styles continues here as be brandishes one odd looking mop on his head. Ron Perlman looks close to pissing himself with laughter half the time, and I mean this in a good way. His character is the perfect sidekick to Cages’ Behmen, and the pair work brilliantly together. Claire Foy as the Witch is a fine looking woman too, and at times you really do feel sorry for the old bird, but the film makes it far too obvious from the outset of her intentions. Even saving one of the group in a standout scene that see’s them all try to get across an old rope bridge does not give any indication she is any better than what you have come to expect. And you are never quite sure as to whether Behmen is out to save her, himself and his faith. The script is not all that intelligent to be honest, and many conversations feels forced and a bit out of place, especially when Hagamar begins talking and joking.
The special effects are very well presented, although the big set piece at the end does look a little bit too CGI. The settings though, are fantastic especially the scary woods infested with wolves and mist, I liked that scene and it harked back to the good old days of fantasy and horror. There is also a cameo appearance by the great Christopher Lee as the disfigured Cardinal D’Ambroise. The music serves the film really well, and there are just enough sword fights to keep you entertained throughout. We are presented with one truly bizarre incident though, as the Devil appears and would seem to have a Jamaican accent, what on Earth is all that about???? Still, if your looking for an easy ride to pass 90 minutes while you drink some beers and eat pizza, you can’t go far wrong with Season of the Witch, just don’t expect to be talking much about it a day or two after seeing it, it is easily forgettable.
[pt-filmtitle]Season of the witch[/pt-filmtitle]