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Season of the Witch (2011)

January 7, 2011


Written by: Bragi F. Schut

Produced by: Alex Gartner and Charles Roven

Directed by: Dominic Sena

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content

95 min.

U.S. Release Date: January 7, 2011

The director that brought us Gone in 60 Seconds, Kalifornia, and Swordfish is back with a medieval sword-wielding fantasy adventure film called Season of the Witch.  Written by first-time screenwriter, Bragi Schut, the film stars Nicholas Cage as a knight who fights off evil forces in the mountainous wilderness while escorting a supposed witch to an abbey to participate in a ritual that will rid the area of impending doom.  Sound ridiculous to you?  Well, it should come as no surprise that this movie was supposed to hit theaters in March of 2010, but the powers that be kept delaying it to later dates, and here we are, in January… the bone yard of the motion picture industry.  Is Season of the Witch the January picture to buck the trend, or is it sitting comfortably in its right place?




In the 14th century, during the infamous Crusades, the mountainous kingdom that serves as the film’s setting is devastated by the Black Plague.  The area’s besieged church, who figures that it is dark sorcery that is the cause of the plague, commands two knights to transport an accused witch to an isolated abbey, where there a ritual will take place to end the pandemic.  The two knights, along with a small group of help, join in a mission through the unreceptive wilderness all for the fate of the girl who may be a witch.  When the party gets to the abbey, a horrifying breakthrough risks the knights’ mission and unveils an evil that is way darker than they ever imagined.


You probably see where this is headed, but Season of the Witch is a strange cinematic brew.  The acting is poor, the direction does match the genre, and the CGI-festival in the film’s finale is out of control.  When all of these ingredients mix, it creates not only a ridiculous film, but a confusing one as well.  It is hard to figure out what type of film Season of the Witch is trying to be, a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque fantasy film, a Fast-and-the-Furious-esque action movie, or just any Nicolas Cage film.



Cage’s performance as Behmen, one of the knights of the mission, is bland and seems as if the actor is simply playing himself, but in a medieval setting.  The rest of the acting performances are, at best, reminiscent of 2004’s Van Helsing.  Paired with the bad acting, the overall aesthetic of Season of the Witch makes for a film that is worse than camp, it’s an anger inducer.



If you have enjoyed director Dominic Sena’s films in the past, or you are a Nic Cage fan, you may still want to tread lightly here.  Season of the Witch proves that the Walmart model – everything under one roof – doesn’t always work.  This fantasy-CGI filled-horror-adventure mashup, as it were, makes it difficult to find any redeeming qualities.  As a film that releases in January, this conclusion is to be expected.  This film was released right where it belongs, in a month that time forgets every year.



Rating: *


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