Wednesday 12 January 2011


Out now in cinemas is the new Nicolas Cage supernatural thriller.
Check out the trailer and read my review, next...

After leaving the crusades to go on their own soul searching adventure, Behman and Felson (Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) are soon pulled back in by the church for one last task; deliver a young girl suspected of spreading the plague to a distant monastery, so she can be put to trial as a witch and punished accordingly. On their journey they are joined by an ex-prisoner as their guide, and an altar boy, keen on becoming a knight. Along the road things start to go wrong, but is the young and seemingly innocent girl to blame?

This film has been a long time coming. It must be a year ago that the first trailer was released, but then it disappeared from the release schedules until now. That's never the best of signs, but Nic Cage can often be a joy to watch in even the crappiest of films, so I was willing to give Season of The Witch a fair shot. And well, it's quite bland. Not offensively bad, but just dull and formulaic with the worst case of jingoistic Americanism I've seen since The Patriot.

At the start of the film we're given a brief recap of the crusades, where it quickly becomes obvious who our heroes are going to be. The costumes for Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman are grizzled, aged and battle-scarred (much like themselves), whereas everyone else around them just wears white tabards. Apparently the crusades have been rolling through battlefields for decades with Behman and Felson leading the charge, but it's when Behman kills a woman in battle that his conscience finally catches up with him. He's slaughtered literally hundreds of people without a twinge of guilt, but this bothers him. This sequence does provide the film's highlight, cutting to a brief shot of Cage and Perlman down the pub, toasting their victories with a couple of wenches and laughing like maniacs.

As for the historical accuracy, we're talking about a film with witches in it, so that's not a major concern. It is clear that Season of The Witch is geared towards an American popcorn munching crowd, and they're going to make sure they look like the good guys, accuracy be damned. Despite being set in the 14th Century, Cage and Perlman carry very thick American accents, whereas the bad or morally dubious characters are plum English. The group that is transporting the possible witch gets fleshed out by a plucky young altar boy (played by Misfits' Robert Sheehan) and a vagabond guide (Stephen Graham with an appalingly scouse attempt at an American accent), as well as a potentially villainous monk Debelzaq (the very English Stephen Campbell Moore). Mel Gibson would love this film.

The other main flaw of Season of The Witch is that it's so infuriatingly dark. Most of the action occurs at night, but at times it's a real struggle to see what's going on. One particular scene sees the young girl fleeing captivity into the woods, but it just becomes a montage of dark and muggy whip pans. There's also little in the way of witchcraft, something I'd have thought was a guarantee given the title. Some of the special effects aren't terrible, and the plague victims are disgustingly well realised, but the finale descends into CGI heavy mayhem.

Cage and Perlman do share some great chemistry, but it's not enough to raise the quality of the film. It's definitely their show, and the rest of the travellers might as well not exist. Robert Sheehan tries his best, but he's way too old to be playing an altar boy (With a goatee? Really?), and never shows an ounce of his Misfits brilliance. On the Nicolas Cage crazy scale this is about a 2, as he's too keen on being all heroic and righteous. Only his barmy barnet alludes to an unhinged mind.

Altogether, Season of The Witch is a fairly mindless piece of popcorn entertainment that fails to deliver on the promise of its title, but I'd not be averse to seeing Cage and Perlman work together in the future.


1 comment:

  1. I think you were too kind. This is literally one of the worst movies I've ever seen.