Star cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen, Claire Foy.
Plot: 14th century knights, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, have to take an accused witch, Claire Foy, to a monastery where her fate will be decided. Others accompanying them in the journey want the witch killed because they believe it will end the Black Plague that has ravaged many lives. But the witch has other plans…
What’s Good: The snappy and interesting manner in which the story progresses; the good visual effects and camerawork.
What’s Bad: The average performances – they should have been more believable.
Verdict: Season Of The Witch is old wine in new bottle, but it manages to hold your attention while it lasts.
Loo break: None really.
Watch or Not?: Go watch it if you are one for the creepy supernatural genre. Keep your expectations low.
Atlas Entertainment and Relativity Media’s Season Of The Witch is a supernatural action-thriller about a witch being transported across dangerous lands for a trial to decide her fate.
It is the 14th century, where the Church is fighting a war against the infidels. Witchcraft and witch-killing are prevalent. Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) are two ferocious knights who have fought long and hard in the Crusades but are tired of all the blood-letting in the name of God. They abandon their compatriots and leave for the wilderness. Soon, they discover that the land they are passing through is under the spell of the Black Plague epidemic. As soon as they reach a town, they are recognised as being deserter knights and are jailed. Their only way out is to serve the church again, but this time as the couriers of a girl (Claire Foy), accused of being the witch, and responsible for the ravenous plague. The witch is to be immediately taken to a faraway monastery, where monks in possession of the only copy of a holy book, will decide her future.
With no option left, Behman and Felson agree to do the job but on one condition: that the girl is given a fair trial by the monks. Cardinal D’Ambroise (Christopher Lee) agrees to their wish and deputes his general, Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen), and his priest, Debelzaq (Stephen Campbell Moore), to accompany them and the witch in their journey. A regular traveller, Hagamar (Stephen Graham), and a young but courageous altar-boy, Kay (Robert Sheehan), also accompany the cavalcade. As they set out through the woods, things start to go wrong: the witch manages to give her captors a slip, Eckhart is killed in mysterious circumstances, and a pack of dangerous wolves attacks them, killing Hagamar. The witch is then recaptured. Behman, however, is confused if the captured innocent-looking girl is really the witch. The priest, in the meantime, cautions them against talking to the witch, lest she finds out their weaknesses and uses it against them. Their dangerous journey finally ends at the monastery, where things take a turn for the worse. Is justice done? Is the girl really the witch, or is she something else? The rest of the film answers these questions.
Script & Screenplay
Writer Bragi F. Schut has written a script based on Christian superstition and history – and is similar to many other films. The screenplay too, per se, lacks novelty, but it entertains because of the brisk pace at which incidents keep happening one after the other. The conversations between the medieval characters are short and snappy, as are the well-orchestrated fights. The story has a surprise climax, which is well-done. In short, the fact that the story is not complicated or layered works in its favour.
What doesn’t work is the uninspiring performance by the cast. Although Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman do okay jobs as the knights, their performances seem too contrived at times. The rest of the cast – Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Robert Sheehan, Ulrich Thomsen and Christopher Lee – deliver average performances. Claire Foy, as the witch, is fine.
Direction, Visual Effects & Editing
Director Dominic Sena‘s (Gone In Sixty Seconds, Swordfish) attempt at the supernatural-thriller genre sails through only because of the film’s pace and the very good visual effects. Amir M. Mokri’s cinematography is excellent; his lens capture the beautiful locations of Austria and Hungary well. The special effects (the plague-afflicted people and the demons) are fair. Visual effects, as already mentioned, are good. Atli Örvarsson’s background score is okay. Editing (Bob Ducsay, Mark Helfrich and Dan Zimmerman) is sharp. Production design by Uli Hanisch is impressive.
The Last Word
All in all, Season Of The Witch makes for entertaining viewing, if your expectations aren’t sky-high. Expect it do average business at the Indian box-office.
Season Of The Witch releases in India in English and Hindi dubbed versions.