14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.


“Season of the Witch” is uncomplicated and relatively straight-forward: in the 14th century, veteran Crusaders Behmen and Felson (Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) grow weary of being ordered by the Church to slaughter women and children whose only crime is not being born Christian. Deserting, they set off on the long journey home and eventually reach eastern Europe to find it stricken with plague. The Catholic authorities have found a scapegoat for the spread of the disease: a young woman (Claire Foy) whose ‘confession’ of being a witch they obtained via torture. Arrested for desertion, Behman and Felson are offered a full pardon if they will transport the girl to a remote monastery, where the resident monks will perform a ritual to strip her of her powers, enabling her to be killed and thus ending the plague.

While nothing about the movie is particularly remarkable or ground-breaking, the cast all acquit themselves as talented professionals and for most of it’s running time Season of the Witch is an entertaining and watchable effort. There are a number of well-handled setpieces on the knights’ journey that whittle down their travelling companions, such as an attack by ravenous wolves that transform into hellhounds, and a perilous passage over a collapsing bridge. And although the film doesn’t dwell on the wide-reaching effects of the plague, the Crusaders encounter some grisly and impressive sights: hundred of crows circling over a city; a dying Cardinal (Christopher Lee) hideously deformed by the disease; a starving dog – it’s body ridden with weeping sores – feasting on a corpse; an apparently lifeless village in which two inhabitants suddenly emerge to silently dump a body in the street, before retreating back inside; and an open mass grave full of liquefying cadavers.The Blu-Ray comes with deleted scenes, featurettes and an alternate ending. What’s funny is that none of this bonus material makes the film any better. So much of the film falls apart like a Corman flick towards the end of his American International Pictures run. Nicolas Cage is working at his full cinematic weirdo power, while Perlman and the rest of the cast tries to maintain the flick. The A/V Quality is near reference quality with a DTS-HD master audio track that never drops below cinema quality. In the end, I’d recommend a rental.



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