My esteemed colleague WDW and I seem to have made it a habit that, if we go to see a film together, it’s usually as a dare to watch something truly dreadful. Our last adventure, a trip to see Twilight: Eclipse exceeded all our expectations.
When we settled down in front of Season Of The Witch, a medieval action-horror boasting a Rotten Tomatoes score of 3%, we had no thought that it was going to be anything more than turgid nonsense, with light relief coming from seeing how unconvincing Nic Cage’s hair extensions were going to be.
Readership, we were labouring under a misapprehension, one that desperately needs clearing up. Season Of The Witch will never be a great film, but if you enjoy derring-do, sword-play and ye olde adventuring then you could do a lot worse.
The story concerns Nic Cage and his wig returning from the Crusades as a deserter, along with his best mate Ron Perlman and his giant forehead. They are talked/blackmailed into escorting a witch across country to an isolated monastery, whose monks will take away her powers and cure the land of the pestilence sweeping across it. It’s a dangerous cargo story, a kind of olde worde Wages Of Fear, and the package they carry turns out to be neither the innocent girl that our heroes initially see, nor the witch that the monk accompanying them believes.
At 97 minutes there’s no flab or dull patches. The film gallops from wild-eyed battle to preposterous encounter. There are swordfights, wolves, demons, and a sweatily tense bridge-crossing sequence. There’s a decent performance from Nathan off of Misfits, and Claire Foy as the witch does a fine job of flitting between innocence and evil. Nic Cage does his trademark flip-out, and Dominic Sena directs the whole thing with an eye to the gothic and grotesque.
Yes, ok, the dialogue is pretty dreadful (although there are a couple of great lines that WDW and I quoted back and forth to each other in the pub afterwards) but then you show me a medieval actioner where the lines are anything more than groanworthy.
Short conclusion – we walked out feeling utterly bemused by the rotten reviews this film has been getting. It’s a lot of fun and solidly old-fashioned in it’s approach in giving you thrills and jolts in equal measure. It’s likely to get knocked around at the box office, facing as it does the one-two punch of 127 Hours and The King’s Speech in it’s opening weekend. That’s a shame, because if you’re in the mood for scary action (admission: I’m ALWAYS in the mood for scary action) this fits the bill admirably.
WDW and I wanted to see a bad film this weekend. We failed dismally.
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