Since Season of the Witch explores religious themes, let us give thanks to the lord that Uwe Boll was kept away from this 95 minute production. Although, when you hear the B-level dialogue of Ron Perlman and Nicholas Cage, one has to wonder if Boll was with them in spirit. Instead, the audience is blessed with director Dominic Sena leading the congregation. That is decent news for he has worked magic with Cage before in Gone in Sixty Seconds. Then again, this guy also directed Swordfish. Hollywood works in mysterious ways my friends.
When dealing with an adventure/fantasy piece, the audience wants to be engrossed in a fictional world and feel that escapism feeling. Season of the Witch is capable of doing some of this. The atmosphere holds up well, as in, this doesn’t look like it was shot in someone‘s backwoods ala Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In fact, most of the shooting was done in Austria and Hungary. So this witches’ brew has unique ingredients, which will hopefully please the genre fans as well as mainstream audiences. Basically, if the drink gets you buzzed, then who cares what they throw in it.
Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) are legendary warriors who have been fighting in the 14th century Crusades for years. When they question what they are fighting for, they simply leave and seemingly become nomads. A reluctant stop in a kingdom they once knew, reveals a terrible plague has fallen upon the city. After their identity is revealed, a deal is made in which the two knights will escort the rumored source of the plague – a witch (Claire Foy) – to a far away monastery, where the labeled witch will be judged. Joining the burley knights are a local merchant (Stephen Graham), the kingdom’s lead knight in Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen) and the priest who is hell-bent on ridding these lands of the witch, Debelzaq (Stephen Campbell Moore). Also tagging along is sneaky, eager to please altar boy Kay (Robert Sheehan).
As the poor man’s version of the fellowship travel through endless forest and cross one ragged looking bridge, the young girl who is branded as the “Black Witch,” begins to open up to Behmen. Behmen then begins to question whether or not this mission is a farce and who he can really trust. That is until random perils begin to plague the group. Eventually, they arrive at the old monastery, where the truth comes out on what is claiming the lives of so many people.
For all the fan boys (and girls) of this genre, the following run-on sentence should sum up what this flick is. If the guy who made Willow – complete with production qualities & set designs – borrowed a theme from the Exorcist, sprinkled in dialogue from Bloodrayne, used action choreography from Legend (the one starring Tom Cruise), and finally polishing it up a bit – you get this flick. The cinematography should remind one a lot of Willow actually. What held this flick back was the uneventful camera work, considering the technology now available. Even though that long descriptive sentence contains a few duds; this flick took the best of those productions and made it work. If the cinematography could have opened up during battle sequences or on the journey itself, the epic vibe the piece was going for may have registered more.
The final battle sequence is decent but it suffers from the camera being way too close to all the characters. Pretty sure they put Ron Perlman’s sword fighting skills on a loop too. Aside from that element, the only horrendous aspect about this flick (surprisingly) is the dialogue chemistry. Mainly because there isn’t any. At the very least, the junior high level conversations kept the audience abreast of what is happening within the storyline. Acting is suitable for the script yet the only real intriguing character is played by Claire Foy. Simply because she spends the majority of the time in a caged wagon but still manages to deliver the most lively performance of the bunch.
Overall, Season of the Witch is a fantasy piece that takes its time. Sure the running time is still considered short for these pieces, yet the story never gets too deep. Those expecting to find a vast new world to explore may not get enough of that, for this is predominantly a period piece. A supernatural tone is hanging around though and the payoff at the end is satisfactory. It’s not an epic masterpiece that will spawn sequels, but it should satisfy that genre craving many audiences (and me) have.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5