Season of the Witch (2011)

Horrornews is a discussion forum for true horror fans to discuss the more obscure areas of the horror/cult/exploitation film genre as well as current theatrical horror.

Moderator: Chris Slack

Post Reply
User avatar
Remo D
Posts: 1277
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2000 10:00 pm
Location: Marina, CA U.S.A.

Season of the Witch (2011)

Post by Remo D » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:56 pm

And, of course, by "2011," I mean "pulled from a summer 2010 release for reshoots, snuck out first thing in January and hidden from the critics." Hey, for a bargain Saturday morning show, I was guaranteed the place pretty much to myself, so why not? It turned out I wasn't QUITE alone, but close enough.

Okay. We get a very strong opening straight out of WITCHFINDER GENERAL. Accused witches desperately try to save themselves with phony confessions as the officials pitilessly heave them over the bridge with ropes around their necks... but it doesn't stop there. The opening actually gave me hope. And you know what? I didn't actually do any specific research on this, but I'm betting it came from the reshoots. Because the moment--the very MOMENT the REAL movie started, I knew we were in huge trouble. Because Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman were gearing up for battle in the Crusades--by exchanging 20th century "buddy picture" dialogue.

I wish I was joking. I'm not. "Whoever slays the fewest men pays for the drinks tonight." "But what if we slay the same amount of men, who shall pay for the drinks?" "Oh, you're going to pay for the drinks, all right." Well, they're the two toughest Crusaders, and everyone's in awe of them, but they desert when they finally figure out (the hard way) that they're actually murdering innocent people in the name of God.

They're soon caught (though Cage gets to use his sword to deflect several close-range crossbow bolts first--sure), but instead of being executed for desertion, they get one more big chance--they'll be spared if they'll escort a recently captured young "witch" to a remote monastery for trial and ritual, as they believe she's responsible for the recent outbreak of plague. Cage doesn't want to do it as he doesn't want to work for the Church anymore, but the prospect of saving a possibly innocent young lady? Hmmm...

So our two buddies go on exchanging wisecracks and prepare to hit the treacherous trail with the "witch" and the priest they suspect of abusing her, blah blah blah... Need a guide? Oh, the smart-aleck swindler in the stocks will do just fine--we HAVE to bring him along as he's the only one who knows the area. Oh, wait! The altar boy is following us--he wants to devote himself to our cause and earn honor in the process... hey, we got us a road movie! Did I mention that director Dominic Sena also cast Cage in GONE IN 60 SECONDS? Did I remember that the last thing this guy made was WHITEOUT? Wish I had.

Oh, this could have gone somewhere. The young "witch" has mind games to play with her escorts, and the priest is quite right when he warns that she'll try to turn them against each other. The prospect of wondering whether she was genuinely supernaturally affected or simply uncannily intelligent could have been quite tantalizing. But NOT after an opener which blatantly spells out that the supernatural is at work. And NOT when attacking wolves keep pausing to put on extra-snarly CGI 'monster' faces before actually springing. (I don't know about you, but I think a pack of attacking wolves could be plenty scary enough on its own?)

Haven't mentioned the possessed 'zombie' monks (you gotta get 'em in the head) or the utterly predictable "who lives, who dies" nature of this thing, either. Didn't think I had to. Oh, and Christopher Lee? One scene under plague makeup at the beginning and then he dies, so if you were thinking of seeing this JUST because he was in it, I hope I saved you a trip.

And although I've already mentioned the atrocious dialogue? I can't stop without sharing just one more thing... they go for the JAWS line. They really do. Their first bout with the demon (oh, darn, did I spoil it?)... and the priest says "We're going to need more holy water." And the crowd goes wild. Perhaps SEASON OF THE WITCH was afraid to compete with THE LAST EXORCISM (and now we've got THE RITE coming out as well). And the makers of a (presumably more authentic) plague thriller known as BLACK DEATH were afraid of THIS film. All it has to do is be good--any good at all--and it will have nothing to fear.

By the way, I wonder if anybody remembers a little picture by Ingmar Bergman known as THE SEVENTH SEAL? I'm only slightly kidding--over the past few weeks I've run across several people who honestly had no idea who the Marx Brothers were, so anything's possible. But getting back to THE SEVENTH SEAL... it had Crusaders, it had accused witches, it had the plague, it had superstition and it had supernatural manifestations. I'm honestly trying to picture Bergman attempting to come to grips with suggestions that he spark up his dialogue a bit--make it a little more fun, toss in a little more action--you know, this whole "Death" thing is so damn downbeat, so you've got to get your laughs in while you can... right? If you really and truly haven't ever seen THE SEVENTH SEAL, do yourself a favor and watch THAT instead of THIS.

Would this have been the worst film of 2010 had it actually come out in 2010? No, not with MY SOUL TO TAKE hanging around. But someone's going to have to try very hard to stop this REMARKABLY awful movie from claiming the honors for 2011. The year is young, and the gauntlet has already been thrown down.

User avatar
Chris Slack
Posts: 5506
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 1999 12:00 pm
Location: Everett WA USA

Re: Season of the Witch (2011)

Post by Chris Slack » Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:38 pm

Sounds awful. Hopefully this post will help me to convince my wife (big Nic Cage fan) to not insist we see this :)

User avatar
Posts: 1075
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 1:36 am
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Season of the Witch (2011)

Post by Kimberly » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:40 pm

zero desire to see this :)

Post Reply