When is a horror movie not a horror movie? When Nicholas Cage is allowed in a 25 mile radius of the set!!! I’m sorry that may seem harsh, but I still bare the mental scars of the Wicker Man remake debacle. Not that I have anything against Cagey boy himself. I mean if someone paid me copious amounts of cash to stare intently into space and monotonously recite dialogue through my nostrils I would graciously accept... So, with ‘a very open mind (!!)’ I sat down to watch his latest ‘box office smash’ SEASON OF THE WITCH...
The movie is set in the 14th century. Behmen (Cage) and his partner in crusading Felson (Ron Perlman, Hellboy) are Teutonic knights. Between them they have racked up thousands of victims as they slaughter in the name of God. (mmmmmm) It’s only when Cage inadvertently spears an innocent girl that he starts to question their missions. (I guess even God has standards when it comes to genocide of the ‘non believers’!)
After turning their backs on the Crusades, the duo are obliged to escort a young female (played by Claire Foy and credited as simply The Girl) to her trial at a monastery. The Girl has been accused of dabbling in the Black arts and as such has been linked to the crippling outbreak of the Black Plague. The gruelling journey while transporting the suspected witch is hazardous and challenges the knights bodies, minds and spirits as they edge closer to their destination – and closer to the truth about their female prisoner…
I really kicked myself after watching this for bemoaning some of the ‘no budget movies’ I have watched lately. Careful what you wish for and all that…. Here comes along a glossy packaged movie straight out of a major American studio!
Despite my sarcastic tone, I honestly was willing to give the movie a fair crack of the whip. But within the first few lines of dialogue I knew I would be siding with the ‘witch’ she entered the fray! The corny ‘best buddy action movie’ rapport between Cage and Perlman destroyed any notion that this would be an atmospheric piece of cinema. No effort was made to disguise the American accents either. I don’t know why director Dominic Sena didn’t go the whole hog and have Cage and Perlman swigging cans of Pepsi Max while on their medieval road trip!! It all kind of made sense, however, when I leant that extra action sequences were added to the original cut of the movie. Box Office $$$’s will always be king I guess. Gore is sacrificed for some ludicrously bad CGI in the movies climax which in many ways epitomised this weak effort for me.
There is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ appearance from Sir Christopher Lee which is worth mentioning. (Or should that be ‘blink and you’ll fall asleep’?!?). Plus the Austrian landscapes are outstandingly beautiful in some shots. Apart from that I was struggling for positives.
I am possibly reviewing this movie with ‘gore tinted spectacles’ on so coming across a little biased. In fairness, this is essentially fantasy picture, and could well appeal to mainstream fans of the likes of BBC 1’s MERLIN etc. I just think horror fans would find this a little tedious from start to finish. The last word of course has to rest with the Nickster himself. In the ‘extras’ section, a short on set interview with Cage reveals "Season of the Witch" gave him the chance "to act out a role he has been imagining since he was five years old." That very fact may give you an idea as to who this movie may appeal to!! In summary, nice wig– shame about the movie!
Review by Marc Lissenburg
|Released by Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|