SEASON OF THE WITCH
Christian Faith Battles Demonic Evil
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman,
Claire Foy, Robert Sheehan,
Stephen Campbell Moore, Ulrich
Thomsen, Stephen Graham, and
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 95 minutes
Distributor: Rogue Pictures/Relativity
Director: Dominic Sena
Executive Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh, Alan G.
Glazer, Steve Armstrong, Tom
Karnowski, Tucker Tooley
Producer: Charles Roven, Alex Gartner
Writer: Bragi Schut
Address Comments To:Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO
Relativity Media (Rogue Pictures/Overture Films)
8899 Beverly Blvd., Suite 510
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 859-1250; Fax: (310) 859-1254
The movie opens with three women accused of being witches in 1235 being hanged. The executioner, however, won’t let the priest perform a cleansing ritual on the bodies, and one of the witches seems to come back to life and apparently kills the priest.
Flash forward to 1332 at the Crusades*, where two knights, Behman and Felson, played by Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, are shown with thousands of other Christian knights facing a Muslim army. A battle montage shows about 10 years of fighting against Muslim forces. At one point, Felson wonders why God seems to have so many enemies. Then, during one assault on a castle, the Crusaders seem to be killing women and children, not just soldiers. In fact, Behman is disturbed that he just unintentionally thrust his sword into a woman. Disgusted with the affair and the never-ending battles, Behman and Felson desert the army and return to Europe.
Back in Europe, they find out an awful plague has gripped the land. Then, while trying to get provisions and horses in one town, they are accused of being deserters. The local cardinal, dying of the plague himself, rules they can escape prison if they take a young woman accused of being the witch and causing the plague to a remote monastery. There, the monks will perform a special ritual to determine her guilt.
At first, Behman refuses because he no longer wants anything to do with the church hierarchy, which he believes has become corrupt. Then, he takes pity on the woman, who he thinks has been beaten while in custody. Concerned that she gets a fair trial, Behman agrees to take her to the monks at the monastery. Joining Behman and Felson are a priest, a young man who wants to be a knight, a guide who claims to know the area where they’re headed, and a sad knight who lost his family to the plague.
On the way, strange and deadly things begin to happen, including an attack by demonic wolves. Perhaps the young woman is not so innocent as she claims to be.
SEASON OF THE WITCH is surprisingly entertaining and suspenseful. It also has some witty dialogue and banter, especially between the two main knights. It’s definitely a B movie, however. If you can accept that fact for what it is, and not take things too seriously, then it is fun to watch.
The movie also has plenty of battle scenes, though, and many scary moments. Most of the scary moments involve witches and demons, including demonic wolves. There is also brief foul language, as well as a few sexual innuendoes. Regarding the latter, there is one shot during the opening sequence of the two knights drinking while three women are sitting on their laps.
Despite the movie’s jaundiced, revisionist, inaccurate view of the Crusades (in reality, the Crusades in the Middle East were over by 1300) and the church hierarchy during the Middle Ages, it eventually sides with Christianity against the demonic forces ravaging the land. Behman may have lost faith in the organized church of the Middle Ages and the Crusades, but he hasn’t lost faith in God or Jesus Christ. Also, [SPOILER ALERTS] the final battle becomes a fight between the knights, the good priest and an actual demon. There are also two positive scenes where a priest gives a dying person the Last Rites. The young wannabe knight, an altar boy, crosses himself at the end of the ritual in the first scene, and the second scene is quite moving, as is the movie’s very last scene. Thus, SEASON OF THE WITCH has overtly positive Christian content, especially in the third act. This content redeems and almost purifies the negative content.
The negative content, however, including the scary moments, require strong or extreme caution. This movie is not for pre-teens or all teenagers.
Finally, some viewers may also be bothered by the need for a ritual read aloud in Latin to banish the demon. Such liturgical elements are a very valid part of Christian history and tradition, however. Thus, although SEASON OF THE WITCH is clearly a fantasy adventure and should not be taken literally, it has some real Christian foundation. It provides an opportunity for parents to discuss with their teenagers the biblical background to ideas about angels, demons, the Fall of Man, God, Jesus Christ, God’s church, Christian rituals, the evils of witchcraft, and exorcism of demons.
Please read our CONTENT section above to make a final determination about seeing SEASON OF THE WITCH.
* In reality, the Crusades ended by 1292, but there were still battles with Muslims in the 1300s, of course, especially in the movie’s vague historical references.
SEASON OF THE WITCH is surprisingly entertaining, suspenseful and even witty. It’s definitely a B action movie, however, with scary horror moments and a few off-color comments. Despite an inaccurate negative view of the Crusades and church hierarchy, it has strong Christian, redemptive content, especially in the third act when heroic Christians must defeat a demonic adversary. MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution.