As I sat waiting for the preview screening of Season of the Witch
to begin, I noticed a man in the row in front of me eating meat loaf and green beans from a paper plate. As odd as that is, I can’t help but think it’s symbolic of a film that offers meat loaf on a paper plate instead of steak on fine china. Heck, it’s not even beef stew on stoneware. The preview audience was unruly – a lot of talking and laughing even though there’s nothing funny in the film. It’s the first preview screening I’ve been to when a good fourth of the audience left before it was over. One man even climbed over a rail to leave early.
The film stars Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as two knights who desert the Crusades after killing some women and children even though they’ve previously slaughtered hundreds of infidels in quite a cavalier manner. This sudden attack of conscience leads them to agree to transport a girl accused of being a witch who has brought the plague down on the general population to a remote monastery for judgment and probable execution. During the 6 day journey, every cliché of “horror” movies is trotted out: creepy music, darkness, howling wolves, forests covered in mist, and a body count beginning with the lowest-billed character. The dialog is uneven and, in some cases, ridiculous. Attempts at “medieval” accents come and go, and the performances are far from convincing. Basically, you just don’t care what happens to any of them. At least Ron Perlman acts as though he knows it’s a joke.
I’d like to say that the film has some redeeming qualities, but I just can’t think of anything. Even the demon is cheesy – especially when he speaks. The holes in logic in the story are big enough to drive a Sherman tank through. Unfortunately, it’s not bad in a campy way, so I doubt it’s destined to develop a “cult” following. Basically, you should probably save your money, and, if you must, rent it for a buck from Red Box when it becomes available – shortly.