I have to write this review quickly because I have a feeling that, in another 30 minutes or so, my body’s immune system will succeed in destroying any trace of Season of the Witch.
In Season of the Witch, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman play two Crusaders who eventually get disillusioned with killing people so they desert the army, end up in a small village somewhere, and are informed that the town is being destroyed by the plague because a curse has been put on the town by a witch. Cage and Perlman are then recruited by the local town’s cardinal (Christopher Lee, who is pretty much wasted under all of this really nasty plague makeup) to take the witch to a monastery that is located somewhere else. You’re never really sure where any one location is in relation to another in this film, which is a bit of a problem since the majority of the film is taken up with the journey to the monastery.
Anyway, the Monks at the monastery have this ancient book that apparently contains all these incantations that can be used against evil. This book is the only one left in existence which leads to the question of why nobody ever bothered to make more than a handful of copies of all of these amazingly important books. I mean, seriously, people. So the idea is to take this witch to the monastery and read this book which will end the plague.
So, we go through the whole journey thing and a few unimportant characters are killed off along the way and Cage and Perlman discuss the meaning of life and faith and, at first, we’re led to doubt whether or not the accused witch is actually guilty but then she starts causing all of these supernatural, witch-like thing to happen so I guess the filmmakers got bored with that whole subplot early.
Then we reach the monastery and a whole other movie starts. Seriously, I cannot begin to put into words just how massively the tone of the film changes once they reach the monastery. The film actually becomes good in a kind of silly, over-the-top way as soon our knights are dealing with all of these flying demons and there’s disfigured monks all over the place, and the priest gets to say, “We’re going to need more holy water,” at one point. (“Yay!” I nearly shouted out in the audience, “Catholic action movie one-liners!”) The tone changes so massively that Season of the Witch actually becomes a really fun and entertaining little action movie but, unfortunately, just as soon as things start to get really fun — bang! Movie is over. Thank you for coming out tonight, folks. Now get the Hell outta here.
Season of the Witch is, to put it politely, a mess. This isn’t all that surprising as the movie is being released in January and January is, of course, reserved for either Oscar contenders going into wide release, films starring Jason Statham, or movies that are being released because the studio is contractually obligated. Ron Perlman, being a veteran of both Guillermo Del Toro and Jean-Pierre Jeneut, knows exactly how play his role but Cage just rides around on his horse looking like he’s late for Halloween party. Director Dominic Sena appears to have a mancrush on Zack Snyder and does the whole speed up the camera randomly then go into slow-mo even more randomly thing but it doesn’t really add up to anything more than just confusion.
Finally, I left this film feeling very betrayed because, seriously — how can you call your film Season of the Witch and not feature the classic Donovan song?