Sunday, June 5, 2011

SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011) - Review

What is it with Nicholas Cage and these crappy movies ? I mean he's always had an inclination for cheesy filmmaking and he could chew up scenery real good in awesome, over-the-top performances. But now he's not even interested in indulging his manic side anymore. He's just in it for the money I assume, because there's no way the script could have been that intereseting.

"Season of the Witch" is the latest in his gallery of horrors, a dark film, full of gothic imagery, much like "Drive Angry" or "Ghost Rider". The story involves two Teutonic knights, Behmen (Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman), who after a series of atrocities commited during their tour of duty in the crusades decide to defect and end up in the town of Marburg. Here they are arrested and face charges of treason, punishable by death. So, they accept the redeeming mission of escorting a young girl (Claire Foy), believed to be a witch causing an outbreak of the plauge, to a remote monastery that holds a sacred ritual necessary to disable her powers. You have probably already guessed that the trip will be full of supernatural perils.

Behmen and Felson are joined by four other characters, a priest, a knight who lost his family to the plague, a swindler who knows the way to the monastery and a young altar boy seeking to become knight, but the story makes the characters extremely uninteresting and useless. The only reason for their presence is to be killed off or haunted in various ways by the supernatural evil. Any potential is squandered as every event on the road to the monastery feels like a series of jumping-the-hoops sequences, devoid of thrills, scares or anyhting else worth your time.

The Wicked Witch.
The third act saves the movie somewhat, when the girl reveals itself to be a little more than just a witch. All I can say is that it transforms the movie into a cheap imitation of "The Exorcist". This is where the film shows off its action chops and it's fun to watch, simply because it actually gives you something to watch. There's action and violence that don't require thinking and it ends up being minimally entertaining. The visual effects are okay, but nothing to write home about. The CGI looks good mainly because it's so dark that you can't really make out much of it.

Director Dominic Sena, who once helmed preposterous movies that were actually exciting and fun, like "Gone in 60 Seconds" or "Swordfish", took the lazy route here. He takes too much comfort in being predictable and borrowing from other better films. Cage and the rest of the cast valiantly brave the silly one-liners and flat script and make this pill easier to swallow. This is not the scary horror you were expecting and it's not even the amusing B-flick it should have been. It's just boring.

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