Season of the Witch: A Movie That Should Be Buried In A Ditch

7 01 2011

Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman star in Season of the Witch, yet another attempt to help Cage payback his excessive IRS debt. Here’s the breakdown:

Behmen (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) are brothers-in-arms, fighting valiantly in the Crusades. But when they become disillusioned with the motivations of the Church, the duo desert, quickly coming upon a plague-ridden land. The plague is attributed to the machinations of “The Black Witch,” and the local church authorities task Behmen and Felson with delivering the young girl to the monks of Severak to be put on trial. They are accompanied by a priest, a seasoned knight, a merchant and an altar boy – and each must battle the elements and the deceptions of the witch to survive the journey.

The Monkey: The movie opens with a truly compelling teaser. Three women are put on “trial” for witchcraft and brutally murdered, followed by a creepy scene that sets a wonderful tone for the movie, promising a ghoulishly good time.

Surprisingly, Cage and Perlman were palatable, neither bothering with feigned European accents (thank god). Perlman acted as the comic relief, and his asides were genuinely funny, if a bit anachronistic.

Relative newcomer Claire Foy played the titular witch with the perfect mix of mystery, sensuousness and evil. She brought an astonishing amount of depth to a character that could easily have been cliché and stereotypical. I really hope to see more of her in the future (despite her eerie likeness to wooden-actress-extraordinaire, Kristen Stewart).

The Weasel: You know going into a movie like this that the plot will be formulaic, the acting will be subpar and the ending will be predictable. Season of the Witch delivered on all these counts, but on an epic scale. After the movie’s promising opening scene, it all went downhill from there.

Audiences are “treated” to an endless montage of Behmen and Felson fighting countless battles in the Crusades, wearing ridiculous armour and clanging cheap prop broadswords in slow motion. This whole sequence was unnecessary and slowed the movie to a grinding halt within the first 20 minutes – and the movie never recovered.

Audiences are then introduced to the rag-tag team of witch bait, but care so little about any of them (Behmen and Felson included), that when they are summarily and predictably picked off one-by-one, the only emotion elicited is excitement that the credits are imminent. The deaths aren’t clever or gruesome enough to be memorable and the obstacles our team of heroes must overcome are so mundane and cliché, it’s mind-numbing. There were countless opportunities to turn seen-before moments on their head, in particular, the “we have to cross the rickety old bridge” scene (which appears in about every action movie where a rickety bridge might happen to be). But no – Season of the Witch doesn’t even bother adding anything new, delivering yet another anti-climactic “action” scene.

The movie continued to unravel, and by the time the zombie monks show up, it’s too little too late, and you’re actually rooting for the witch to slaughter everyone and end the movie. During the climactic battle scene, I was praying that Ron Perlman would transform into Hellboy, blow everyone to smithereens, smirk at the camera and say, “Hellboy 3, hitting theatres summer 2012.” No such luck. It’s too bad, because Season of the Witch had the potential to be a creepy, gruesome, medieval version of the modern slasher flick – but it just ended up being…awful.

A truly epic failure of a movie that belongs alongside the straight-to-DVD Uwe Boll drivel.

0.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Is Nicolas Cage taking on any role to help pay his back taxes? Can you even believe Christopher Lee had a cameo? Or, do you completely disagree – did you like the movie? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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