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Season of The Witch - Review

Season of the Witch

Review by Lisa Giles-Keddie

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

NICOLAS Cage recently admitted that he’s always wanted to be a knight, ever since the age of five.

Well, it looks like he got his wish, chain mail, Crusades and all, in Season of the Witch, which offers a curious mix of supernatural horror and historical period drama, with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from one of Cage’s own personal screen heroes, Christopher Lee, all lumpy and bumpy from the Plague.

The film choice is hardly anything out of the ordinary or taxing for the ‘Prince of Supernatural’ Cage, who has previously dabbled in the magical and unexplained in many of his previous projects.

But sadly, Dominic Sena’s film never seems to fully amount to anything on the gander scale that you would expect from a Crusading adventure involving a witch who is blamed for the spread of the Black Plague and a dollop of demonic presence.

It’s a shame, considering it has a compelling beginning when some old hags get tried and dunked for dabbling in the dark arts.

The stage is even fully set for a fun and boisterous adventure between two comrades-in-arms, Behmen (Cage) and Felson, played by Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman.

These two are seen slaying the un-Christian masses abroad, before stopping to think about their actions and getting an attack of conscience, then going AWOL to get away from the clutches of the 14th Century church.

It’s an ideal screen pairing that works a treat thanks to Cage’s sensitivity and Perlman’s oafish presence, and there are also some truly humorous moments, mainly due to Perlman’s Felson teaching a naïve knight wannabe a thing or two about survival.

As a Cage-Perlman show, it ticks all the boxes but it just isn’t enough to bring it out of mediocrity.

Basically, once apprehended and made to transport the witch (Claire Foy, of newly-found Upstairs Downstairs fame), the knights’ journey seems to be virtually over, even with a few intriguing personal reveals, and their destination reached (a monastery), before there is ever time to really get into the swing of the adventure.

There are also effects and the ultimate battle of good verses evil in a library – ever the power of the written word – that trigger memories of past vampire and demon films, with a touch of the Van Helsing in places.

One amusing part is Perlman headbutting Satan that Hellboy fans will relish.

But for all of its non-Christian sentiment, the word of God prevails in the end; so, Bible-fearing American audiences have little to fear.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 95mins
UK Release Date: January 7, 2011