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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Movie Review – Season of the Witch

Movie: Season of the Witch
Rating: ê
The movie starts on a bridge with three women accused of which craft and sentenced to death. It is unclear whether or not they are actually witches. They are given the opportunity to admit their sins and be saved. The oldest of the three women tells the priest he will be punished while the youngest admits her sins in attempt to save her life. The priest tells her it isn’t her physical life she saved but her soul. Then the guards throw them each over the bridge to hang and then lowers them into the river to drown if they aren’t already dead.

The priest insists they aren’t done and that a religious prayer must be read to rid the women of the evil inside. The guard turns and looks back and says “they’re dead, aren’t they? Isn’t that good enough?” and then he walks away.

The priest returns later that night and pulls the out one by one to say the prayer. He finishes with the first one and she is dead.  The second woman he pulls up is a little heavy, but he prays over her and she vomits on his face a little and convulses, but when he finishes, she is still. As he pulls the third up he is pulled over the edge and falls in the water.  He is grabbed at by something under the water but manages to scramble out. He gets back to his book and begins reading the prayer but the witch lights the book on fire and the next thing we see is the priest hung from the bridge.

The movie changes location to follow two crusading knights Behmen( Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman)  on the cusp of battle. They banter back and forth about how many infidels each will kill today and wager for drinks that night to the winner. That night we see them laughing and drinking, surrounded by bar wenches.

 They continue to fight through the years which are made clear to us by the subtitles and the weather and environment changes. During one final battle Behman and Felson break into a castle with the other crusaders and Behamn accidentally kills a woman. He stabs her in the stomach and she dies on his sword while looking into his eyes. Suddenly he has an epiphany and realizes that he “came to fight for God, but I will not kill innocent women and children” for the church. He and Felson then desert the crusades and return home.

They return to find their country side decimated by the Black Plague. They seek refuge in the nearby Palace of Marburg to eat and replenish their supplies. They are discovered when Behman’s sword is seen and they are imprisoned.  They are offered a pardon for desertion by the Cardinal if they deliver the suspected cause of the plague, a pretty young girl, to a particular monastery where the last book of prayers can be found.

Behman refuses to help transport the witch. He tells the cardinal that he works for God but no longer works for the chuch. He and Felson are returned to the dungeon. They banter back and forth about the cardinals reaction. They then realize that across from them is the suspected witch.

To Behman, she just looks like a poor girl wrongly accused of mastering the dark arts. She turns around and we see that she has been brutally whipped and this reminds him of the injustice he did to others in the name of the church. They relent and agree to bring her to the monastery but only promise to turn her over if she is infact a witch and is provided a fair trial. The journey will take them through treacherous places.

Unsure of the path they recruit a travelling salesman who promises to know the way and they set out on their dark and dangerous journey. They bring another kngith and a preist. We later find that an alterboy has been following and is allowed tagged along after proving he might be useful.

They have to go through Wormwood forest. This place has known to take men. It is easy to get lost and never find your way out. While in the forest they take turns watching the witch as they rest.  She asks that they preist not watch her since he is the one that beat her. The knight watches over the witch first. She overhears that his daughter’s name was Mila. Then she has the priest come closer and closer to her and then she stabs him in the hand with his own cross and takes his keys and escapes into the night.

They all run after the witch in a hot pursuit and into a small town where she lures them into a dirt maze-like mass grave and gets them to separate to find her. She pretends to be Mila and the knight runs after who he thinks is his daughter. But then he runs and startles the young altar boy, who stabs him in the stomach and kills him accidently.They manage to  catch the witch again and continue on their journey.  The altar boy feels terrible about this accidental stabbing, even though it wasn’t his fault. “It was as if he didn’t even see me,” says the Altar Boy.

They then reach the next obstacle, a tired old rickety bridge. They struggle to get the caged witches wagon across and the altar boy is saved by the witch when he nearly fall to his death. During the scuffle the priest hurts his wound and Behamn pours alcohol on it. They get lost in the fog and find they are being hunted by wolves. The witch howls and lures all these evil, hungry wolves to eat them.

The swindler salesman gets attacked and eaten and the others are narrowly able to flee.
Finally they arrive at the monastery. Inside they find all the monks are dead and that they were at their desks trying to copy the book. They find the original they were copying and begin the incantations. At this point you realize she isn’t a witch but has been possessed by the devil himself.  The monk realizes she is no witch and turns the pages to read an incantation for daemons. She melts her cage in a spectacular escape. They retreat to inside the monastery.

Suddenly the monks are alive but possessed by the devil and fighting them. The zombie monks scale the walls and attach them and ultimately the monk is killed. Who can read the incantations now? Then we realize that the altar boy can.

Then all the monks become possessed and there is a fight scene with Ron and the Altar Boy and Nicolas and the monk. They fight the demon and they fight all these zombie monks. It seems like the ropes that tied them to their desks did not prevent the monks from climbing up the walls and being totally nuts. Behman and Felson try to keep the daemon back while he completes the incantation and they are both stabbed repeatedly.  Behman hold on though and the altar boy finishes the incantation just before Behman can’t hold the daemon back anymore.

The daemon sort of evaporates and the sky clears leaving the girl naked on the floor. She looks up at Behman who is slumped against some wall and bleeding to death. He looks back at her in a nurturing way. You can see he feels redeemed for his past sins by saving the girl.  Before he dies he tells the altar boy to “keep her safe.” The next scene is the girl (now clothed) and the Altar boy standing at the graves of Behman, Felson and the monk. She then says, “It’s strange to owe your life to someone you’ve never even met.” Then they ride off into the distance, the book safe in the Altar Boy’s saddlebag and the daemon is gone.

This movie for Nicholas Cage’s career is indicative of his finances. Both have gone down in flames and should just be put to rest. The movie had promise but the cheesy banter and Nicholas’s monotone and dull personality left you wanting for so much more.  This movie was sadly a total failure in my opinion but could have been so much more.

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