Season of the Witch (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
29Jun/110

Season of the Witch (2011)

I'm thinking of starting a new feature for the website.  It's called "Nicolas Cage Needs A Castle".  If you're unfamiliar with Nicolas Cage's debt issues then you should know that the man likes his castles, and has been appearing in every movie he can get his name attached to in order to slowly chip away at the tremendous hole slowly growing in his bank accounts.  Now comes Season of the Witch and I wish he would just sell his damn castle.

Maybe they were able to film some of the movie in it's rustic exteriors and save the production team some money.  Perhaps someone involved in the filming or financing of the movie will stumble on this humble, but growing, site and provide an answer.  But it would be almost meaningless, Season of the Witch is a film that struggles for a reason to exist and its willingness to completely ignore the very real torture and humiliation of women in light of some supernatural dilemma is perplexing.

So let's get to it.  Season of the Witch opens with a long mistake of a scene wherein a very evil looking priest forces two women to confess to being witches.  The third, who has a haggard look punctuated by one black eye and one white eye, tells the priest he's going to Hell soon.  In good evil priest fashion he hangs them all then despairs when the guards won't allow him to drag up their bodies to read The Book of Solomon to them.  Well, he returns in the cover of night but it's a bit too late, it turns out that they're actually witches and after successfully disposing one is taken out by one of the younger, prettier ones.

I had very disgruntled feelings about this opening scene.  First off, why is it that, even in this day and age, it's only the women that are being possessed?  Historical period aside I think we can essentially agree that there were no witches in the demonic sense, and the fact that the priest gets to become the good guy to somehow justify the pasts horrific treatment of women is disconcerting.  In the narrative sense it's just a pointless throwaway because we cut almost 100 years later to meet our heroes, Behman von Bleiruck (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman), incredible warriors who will quickly become familiar with the power of witches.

The perfect graduate from Evil Priest Seminary. But in an ironic twist he's right!

They're the classically mismatched yet somehow perfect best warrior friends.  Behman is pensive after ordered to slaughter women and children in the name of God, Felson wisecracks his way throughout the film and follows Behman because why not?  Truthfully, even as I was taking notes, I could not find a single line of Felson's worth perserving for the hollowed illumination of this site.

Regardless, they forsake church but are dragged back into the game by a heavily made-up Christopher Lee, playing a Cardinal, who orders them to escort The Girl (Claire Foy) for a special exorcism that will rid the land of the plague.  If there's any doubt that she's really possessed, the slow slide into Japanese horror-styled hairstyles and threatening comments should satiate that.  Naturally they have to cross the most dreaded wilderness to get her there so the film makes another narrative mistake in enlisting the help of conniver Hagamar (Stephen Graham) to guide them through the swamp.

Helpful hint to aspiring screenwriters, if you can't think of something funny for a lead like Perlman who has perfect deadpan delivery, adding a twitchy scavenger is not going to help. There are special effects sequences that fail to give the illusion of the large-scale battles that Behman and Felson survived.  Then some late film demonic possession sequences are the bare-minimum of creativity in the demon department.  So what is there to take from this film?

...aside from Ron Perlman's wonderful smile and Nicolas Cage's eyes of course.

All a woman needs to avoid succumbing to the dark-side is a pair of good, strong Christian men.  I'm struggling to repurpose the film in such a way that the message is not overtly abundant, but it's nearly impossible.  There are women drug through mud, stripped naked, hung, burned alive, and all they need is a pair of big strong arms to send them back into the good graces of God.  This is a disgusting idea enforced by an ending that uses nudity at exactly the right time to back-up it's rampantly idiotic message.

But I shouldn't be too angry, the movie has an ignorant sense of faith and spirituality that the most die-hard Christian or devout Atheist would agree is stupid.  Most of the cast seems to be in on the sadness as well.  Perlman looks as though he would enjoy being basted by the surface of the sun more than staying another minute in this movie and Cage is in full-on "pensive stare with doubt" mode.  Even Claire Foy seems fed up with this nonsense, injecting The Girl (named in the movie, but doesn't she deserve something in the credits?) with neither demonic fury nor sadness - just a willingness to get along to the next scene.

I'm off to find pictures of Nicolas Cage's castle.  If I spot a locale where the film was made, then it'll make his desire to keep the castle that much more confounding.

Season of the Witch (2011)
Directed by Dominic Sena.
Screenplay  by Bragi F. Schut.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman and Claire Foy.

Posted by Andrew

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