Netflix UK film review: Season of the Witch
Ivan Radford | On 07, Mar 2015Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Dominic Sena
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy, Stephen Campbell Moore, Robert Sheehan
Watch Season of the Witch online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Death, plague, Nicolas Cage – only one thing can unite such an unholy trilogy. Could it be… witchcraft? Dominic Sena’s plumping for a big fat yes with his ridiculous title. Even more ridiculous is the film itself, which is as dumb as it is grimy. It’s grumb. Or dimy.
After a bit of old-fashioned grumb witch hanging, we cut to the Crusades, where Nic Cage shows up in a desert, all shiny costume and blonde wig. He’s never looked more like Carrie Bradshaw in his life. Some sword-swinging later and Hex and the City is in full swing. Charming.
Is she evil? Isn’t she? A lot of dramatic tension lies in ambiguous women locked up behind bars. But enough of that, let’s talk about Season of the Witch. Tasked with taking an accused maiden to a far-off town to see fair trial, Behmen (Cage) is a knight in the service of God, but not the church. It sounds like he has a deep understanding of theology – the illusion is helped along by placing Behman next to towering brute Felson (Ron Perlman, playing Ron Perlman) – but Black Death this ain’t. It’s closer to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Trudging through textbook plot points, Season of the Witch goes from silly antics to dodgy climaxes by way of daft obstacles (yes, there’s even a bridge of death). It’s all in the name of nonsense, which at times even treads on Exorcist territory. All big eyes and naughty smile, Claire Foy (showing a glimpse of her future roles in Wolf Hall and, in London’s West End, Macbeth) milks her part for all its worth. “We believe what we want to believe,” she says to the doubting knight. Dominic Sena apparently believes in making silly films.
Compared to Sean Bean’s recent faith-wrangling horror and James Purefoy’s Solomon Kane, Season of the Witch is as thick as a tin of Dulux. It has big swords, bad wolves, a lumpy bumpy Christopher Lee, and Hellboy headbutting Satan. But swashbuckling and witch-burning is exactly what some people want. And by heck, does this give it to them. With wings on. And claws.
As Beelzebub himself flies through a window, the token priest (Campbell Moore) cries “We’re going to need more holy water!” with a completely straight face. It’s a laugh-out-loud bit of dialogue – and probably not intentional. The Piranha 3D of medieval horror, Season of the Witch is ridiculous. But it’s as ridiculous as any fan of Nic Cage or caged witches could ever wish it to be. It’s grumb, it’s dimy, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
Season of the Witch is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.