Synopsis: In Season of the Witch, two Knights escort an accused witch to a cleansing ritual.
Release Date: January 7, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Thriller, Drama
It’s not that bad. Nearly a year after Season of the Witch was set to open originally it was given arguably the worst release date imaginable, the first weekend in January. Or as I like to call this season, “Where movies go to die.” But this film is not completely horrible, and at times it is somewhat amusing. If not for the simple fact that you are watching a long-haired aging Nicolas Cage (Lavey) and just as past prime Ron Perlman (Felson) play at being the strongest and fastest Knight’s during the time of the Crusades. It is the 14th Century and the Crusades are in full swing, as well as fear of witches and the plague. After deserting their duty as Knight’s fighting in the Crusades due to a crisis of conscience over killing women and children, Lavey and Felson have become wanderers. They wander into the wrong town in search of food and horses and their identities as Knights are uncovered. In order to be forgiven of their desertion they must complete a task for the church to deliver a young girl (Claire Foy) believed to be a witch and responsible for the plague that has been spreading throughout the land to a congregation of Monk’s who will give her a fair trial. Their quest is plagued with a few obstacles, like ravaging wolves and treacherous land but the real threat is their cargo.
Claire Foy does a remarkable job with her character of the girl witch. Her large dow eyes are sweet and naive just before they turn treacherous and full of evil. She turns on the charm to try and sway her captures to release her but also reaps horrific acts upon them when they do not bend to her will. Season of the Witch may be easily overlooked, as it has nothing original to speak of and Cage and Perlman may make a good duo of bantering old friends with decent comedic timing but it is the girl witch that steals the show and makes the film more than just a boring yawn. As for being set in the 14th Century, it does not come across as a period piece except for the manner of dress and period appropriate production design. This is very much a modern tale set in another time which works to its advantage since a modern audience does not get lost in trying to keep up with the ways of this land (nor do the filmmakers have to go into great detail to make things understood). It does have one connection to the time period and that is the talk of faith, something that happens continuously and cannot be escaped from given the Knights’ history with the Crusades and the Church’s belief this girl is a witch. But that is the backbone of the entire story and so it helps to ground it and make it more than just a film about a crazy woman being sent to her death, escorted by two aging Knights and a man of the Church. In the final climactic scene at the Monastery things do get a tad ridiculous as the witch shows her true self but it makes for some adequate laughter and moderately good special effects if you do not focus too clearly on them. I would not with good conscience recommend seeing Season of the Witch to anyone, but if you are in the mood for a subpar medieval horror/action movie it won’t be incredibly painful to sit through.
The plague is a nasty disease. That statement is proven true if you rely on the makeup effects employed in Season of the Witch to the plague victims. With puss filled boils on their faces and skin that looks like it is melting off of them as they are still breathing it is a sight one does not want or need to see again. The green tint to their skin that reflects the sickly nature of their person could cause a viewer to develop their own symptoms of illness. It is not a pretty sight but the make-up is done convincingly well and each person be them commoner or monk, is given the same attention to detail. Moviegoers have seen the plague on screen before but in Season of the Witch the disease is taken to a completely new level of disgusting re-creation, and I appreciate the effects team for their work.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Dominic SenaAlex Gartner
- Producer(s): Alex Gartner, Charles Roven
- Screenwriter: Bragi Schut
- Cast: Nicolas Cage (Lavey), Ron Perlman (Felson), Claire Foy (The Girl)
- Editor: Dan Zimmerman
- Cinematographer: Amir Mokri
- Production Designer: Uli Hanisch
- Costume Designer: Carlo Poggioli
- Casting Director: Elaine Grainger
- Country Of Origin: USA