Season-of-the-Witch-poster

Review: Season of the Witch (2011)

by Trey Lawson – celluloidsheep.wordpress.com/

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Best Bad Quote:

“We’re gonna need more holy water.”

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This is the first new release I’ve seen in 2011, and boy did I pick a doozy. Season of the Witch stars Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as knights who fight in the Crusades until Cage suddenly grows a conscience and refuses to fight. Yes, that’s right. He’s a conscientious objector, in the middle of the Crusades. His buddy Perlman follows along, and before you can say “Ni!” they are on their way home.

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Needless to say, their trip is complicated, and the pair are pulled back into the church-military complex for one last quest: the transportation of a witch from a plague-ridden town to the monastery housing the only book of rituals that can supposedly stop her from spreading the disease. I won’t give away any more plot than that – for one thing, it gets more and more ridiculous from this point on, and really must be seen to be believed.

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What this movie is NOT, however, is good. It’s essentially a supernatural action/horror B-movie hiding behind the A-list status of its lead actor. Character development is virtually nonexistent – Cage and Perlman are supposedly old friends and comrades-in-arms, but the movie rarely shows them working together, and they speak to each other almost exclusively in action movie cliches (“You’re buying the next round,” etc). On top of that, everyone in the movie speaks as though they are in a period film – except for Nic Cage, Ron Perlman, and Stephen Graham (who plays their guide). Cage and Perlman sound to me like they walked right off the set of a contemporary action movie, and Graham (even though he is British) sounds like he couldn’t get rid of his Al Capone gangster accent fromBoardwalk Empire. The result is a very disjointed tone, which often becomes humorous at inappropriate times. I would say that I wish Ron Perlman had been given more to say/do, especially since he had second billing, but all of the characters are so superficial and two dimensional that it really doesn’t make much difference.

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This is coupled by the special effects which are frequently subpar. The CGI is never particularly convincing, and there are numerous “face morphing” shots which look like they could have come from a mid-90s horror movie. On the positive side, there are some pretty good (presumably) practical and makeup effects, especially in scenes featuring plague victims. Christopher Lee, in particular, makes an almost unrecognizable appearance (I found myself wondering after his first scene whether Lee was actually in the movie or not).

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Logical gaps, bad CGI, and humorous dialogue (both intentional and unintentional) abound, and the end result is a movie that is pretty entertaining, but not in the way the director probably meant. Get some friends together and find a cheap screening – if there aren’t any, then wait and rent the DVD. Under no circumstances should you pay full price for this one. It’s the kind of flick Roger Corman at his peak could have knocked out in a week and still managed to make an intelligent, if cheap, horror movie. However, without the guidance of that kind of B-movie auteur, Season of the Witch only manages to be divertingly silly.

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Rating:

2 Surprisingly Prosthetics-free Ron Perlmans

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