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'Season of the Witch' has been hexed

January 10, 2011|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • From left, Stephen Campbell Moore, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman are shown in a scene from "Season of the Witch.
Relativity Media

"Season of the Witch" is an ugly, ugly film where Nicolas Cage helps escort a suspected witch to an unfair trial in a plague-ravaged Europe.  

Everything about the film is unpleasant; I only came out of the film with a laundry list of complaints. In the interest of salvaging some fun, I will be subjecting the film to Popcorn Games. Popcorn Games are where you eat popcorn according to what happens in the film.

  • Eat a piece of popcorn everytime Cage, who plays an English soldier, attempts a British accent. His costar Ron Perlman doesn't bother attempting an accent, probably because any country would be glad to have a tough guy like him on their side regardless of apparent nationality.  
  • Cage and Perlman are the film's good guys because they desert their Crusading army, which has taken to killing women and children in cold blood.  Their commander seems shocked by their questioning of his moral authority after his army has been completely obedient for the past twelve years.  When this happens, eat twelve pieces of popcorn and wonder how these two degenerates could be the first ones to bring up the issue.  
  • Eat a piece of popcorn each time you see such a body. The film can't go 10 minutes without giving us shots of dead plague victims.  The faces of these victims are all distorted to the point where they look like Sloth from "The Goonies." Don't worry about losing your appetite, the special effects are so bad you won't realize that these are supposed to be people.  
  • The girl (Claire Foy) that the group is escorting is accused of witchcraft, but it's clear early on that she's actually demon-possessed.  Eat a piece of popcorn every time the film confuses the two concept. Eat two pieces later in the film when it confuses demons and zombies.  
  • The team's crooked guide is played by British actor Stephen Graham. British actor, British character and inexplicably Graham plays him with an American accent.  The character isn't even important, yet serves as a distraction. When he talks, stuff a lot of popcorn in your mouth so you have as much trouble talking as he does. 
  • The film likes to bring up those infamous tests where suspected witches would be killed even if their deaths proved they weren't guilty of witchcraft ("if she's a witch, she'll save herself from drowning," etc.).  Roll your eyes and roll a piece of popcorn into your mouth when you realize that these references are supposed to be some sort of statement regarding War on Terror-style interrogation techniques.    
  • The one decent suspense scene in the film is one where the team has to get their whole caravan across a weak suspension bridge. They have a hard enough time just getting to the center, and then they have to fight gravity to get to the other side. All while the ropes could go at any minute. You'll want to bite your nails, bite popcorn instead.   The climax of the film involves CGI demons, and a scene shortly before it involves CGI wolves. The CGI demons are crummy, but at least the artists can be forgiven for not knowing how to render a fictional creature. But eat a piece of popcorn for each of the cheesy CGI wolves. You'll be wondering if the artists have ever even seen a wolf.  
  • The team is joined by a young altar boy (Robert Sheehan), who is supposed to be the eye candy for the film.  As opposed to, say, Ron "Hellboy" Perlman.  Eat a piece of popcorn every time you think that the film wants to turn him into the next Robert Pattinson.  Then remember that the movie is going to bomb and Sheehan isn't even on the posters.

One star out of five.  

"Season of the Witch" is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, and disturbing content.  Its runtime is 100 minutes.

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