Review: Season of the Witch

2011/01/18 03:37:54 +00:00 | Jonathan James

With Season of the Witch, I had been hoping for a film reminiscent of the old Hammer Horror and AIP films. Unfortunately, Season of the Witch disappoints due to a mix of inconsistent acting, poor computer generated effects, and story that fails to deliver. While entertaining at times, you can see how this movie could have been something great if given to other talents.

Directed by Dominic Sena (Swordfish, Gone in 60 Seconds), Season of the Witch follows Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as Crusades-era knights who become deserters after they are sent by the church to slay women and children. On their travels, they stop for supplies in a plague-ridden town and are recognized and jailed. Cardinal D’Ambroise, played by Christopher Lee, offers them the chance to escort to trial a witch who is believed to be responsible for the spread of the plague. They accept and embark on their journey with a group of others, with the majority of the film focusing on escorting the witch and whether or not she actually has any power.

The cast is comprised of capable and talented actors, but for some reason they don’t get on the same page here. Nicolas Cage is entertaining enough to keep your interest throughout the film, but his accent jumps in and out of old-English and he just looks out of place. Ron Perlman great in most films he’s in, but he’s wasted in this film. His back and forth with Nicolas Cage does provide some warmth to this movie, but he can’t do enough to save it. They had the ability to use Christopher Lee in any way they wanted, and we see him for a only a few minutes, which is another wasted opportunity. Claire Foy did a pretty good job as the witch, and I’d be interested in seeing her get another chance in a bigger picture. I could have done without the narration, but I’m sure that wasn’t by the actor’s choice.

There is very little in the way of practical effects, with Season of the Witch relying heavily on computer generated imagery. This movie just did not have the budget to support full CG characters and other elements which look unfinished and dated. Any hope you have for a great finale is killed when you see the full CG character on screen and any sense of realism is lost.

This movie is disappointing, because it could have been a really good period piece. The general plot of the film is interesting enough and you could tell that the right talent could really turn this into a great film, but it just didn’t come together here. They just tried to put too many other movies into this, instead of letting it be its own thing. You see flashes of Kingdom of Heaven, Underworld, The Mummy, and other films come in and out, but they don’t mix together well here.

I didn’t leave the theater hating this film, but at the same time, I’m really having a tough time thinking of someone I’d recommend seeing it in theaters. If you have some unquenchable thirst for a new horror movie and you have to see a movie in theaters, you should find this entertaining. It is by no means a bad film, but it just doesn’t justify the full ticket price.

Otherwise, I’d recommend it to those who like cheesy period horror pieces and suggest waiting until this one hits TV or is available to rent. This is an entertaining film, but it is by no means a great film, and it isn’t for everyone. Serious at times and comical (mostly unintentionally) at others, this film never finds itself and we are left with an entertaining, but forgettable film.

1.5/5 Stars