It is the age of the Crusades, the year of our father 1332. And while Holy wars wage in desert lands, back in Europe a different religious war is taking place as the church plays judge, jury and executioner on any women it believes to be in league with the devil as a practicing witch.
Two noble and highly skilled knights (played with tons of enthusiasm but no accents by Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman), battle weary and disillusioned forsake their duties fighting in the Crusades after losing faith in what they are fighting for, and attempt to travel home without being caught.
Coming across a land nearly decimated by the Black Death they are apprehended and given the choice between being sent to their deaths or sent on a perilous mission. That mission is to take a young girl accused of witchcraft and blamed for the pestilence to her witch trial in a nearby monastery.
Choosing the lesser of two evils, the pair embark on the mission accompanied by a rag-tag group of characters including an old knight, a boy trying to prove his worth and a tricky trader as a guide. As they travel further they are beset by dangers including harsh terrains and man-eating wolves. However the most dangerous enemy of all is right beside them, but can they work that out before its too late?
Attempting to put the evil back in Medieval, Season of the Witch is a great action horror with enough of both to keep anyone happy. Well directed by Dominic Sena – who also made the excellent Kalifornia and the not so excellent Whiteout it is a movie with its tongue firmly in its cheek, which still manages to cook up some tense and spooky moments and some brutal and brilliant battle sequences.
The story, although silly from the start, does have some interesting elements to it with the innocence or guilt of the young girl accused of witchcraft kept questionable for most of the movie.
There is also a strong anti-religion message, sighting the corruption of institutionalised religion and the leaders of the church in creating wars and hysteria against certain sections of society a phenomenon not necessarily confined to ancient times if you watch the news today.
The script also gives the credible cast a cadre of characters we care about. Most notable is actress Claire Foy who plays the girl at the centre of the story with a dark edge that keeps you uneasy throughout and there is a cameo from horror legend Christopher Lee under two tons of make up. What makes the film however is the banter and relationship between Cage and Pearlman two great genre actors as at home slicing a dicing infidels as they are debating religious semantics.
Opening with a gruesome witch hanging and getting better and better from then on, Season of the Witch is an entertaining action horror packed with magic, swords, gore and so much more – with two great central performances from two great actors clearly having as much fun making the movie as the audience has watching it.
Check out Nic Cage’s most quotable Horror moments Here