As Bad As You Thought?: Season of the Witch
Legend tells of a time when Nicholas Cage was a respected actor, a bit nutty sure, but a serious professional but over the past several years, his career has (d)evolved. After a series of comically bad performances (often while wearing terrible hairpieces) in hilariously awful films along the lines of; Ghost Rider, Knowing, and his remake of The Wicker Man; has changed the way movie fans see him, now he is often the butt of jokes due to the sheer insanity he brings to his performances through his over acting, don’t believe me well look no further than this.
I have long avoided it with this series, but this week we tackle one of these movies that has given us the Nic Cage we know and love today. This movie has a collection of bad reviews, Cage in a silly hairpiece, and he is being backed up by a beloved character actor (Ron Perlman), so it is time now to see if, Season of the Witch is as bad as you thought.
We begin with the scene of peace and tranquility in the city of Villach…sounds close to the word village don’t you think? Bet it took the screenwriters hours to come up with that one. Anyways peace and tranquility at the sunset as a young girl is dragged forth kicking and screaming by a rope around her neck, she and her cohorts are being accused of witchcraft, they must all weigh the same as ducks. They are as expected, hanged off of a bridge because that’s how witch hunters traditionally did things back then, and you can’t have enough of a good thing. The priest overseeing the festivities tries to have the bodies pulled back up so he can do some kind of ritual, involving a book and some peanut butter (I think) to keep them from returning from the grave, but his workers just tell him that they’ve been “hung and drung” I’m trying to figure out what drung means and it’s HANGED you idiot, not HUNG. So in the dead of night Father Suddenly Remorseful pulls the bodies up to do his ritual, but the last woman, the one we saw at the beginning falls into the river taking the priest with her, he tries to escape but as you know doubt expected she now has supernatural powers and takes care of bidness.
Later in the Gulf of Edremit during the Crusades, two massive armies gather to do what armies during this time when they are of two different religions: treating their neighbors as themselves….in hell!!!!! On the Christian team is Ron Perlman and our hero in a suit of armor with wavy golden locks (chuckle) Nicholas Cage, man he is dreamy. We get a montage of scenes of the duo fighting and being buddies, man the character evolution is unbelievable. The only thing missing is some motivational 80’s rock anthem playing. Eventually we get to the point where Cage kills a woman while on the warpath and everything goes to slow motion, as he all of a sudden realizes that violence is terrible, but by this time it is during the Battle of Smyrna which was towards the end of the crusades, hell most people don’t even officially consider it part of the crusades, so I’m sure he would have been desensitized by now. The newly filled with a conscience Cage with Perlman goes all gravelly voiced all of a sudden and confronts his commanding officer directly, and he does so while sort of attempting a British accent it seems. Oh and his uniform is dirty and brown while all the other soldiers have white uniforms…holy crap metaphoricizing!!! He and Perlman leave defying their commander to stop them, so he has his soldiers shoot them…..er he just let’s them walk off.
They journey on and after discovering a house where the inhabitants have died horrible deaths, they discover a village where a plague is in full swing. They try to leave but some dumbass kid drops Cage’s duffel bag and the crest on his sword comes into full view which and they are arrested for some reason, but the local priest has better ideas, and since Cage and Perlman are older gentlemen it is not the better ideas you are thinking of. They are taken to a room, where a dying clergy man is being tended to by doctors, who declares them to be legendary, I have yet to get that impression, but hey I’m not they guy
who made the movie where witch hunt hysteria is taking place in Europe about a century before it actually happened in real life. Creepy, dying priest naturally wants them to kill the witch who brought the plague upon them, but Cage states with all the intensity that hje can muster while half-way trying that he no longer works for the church, so he and Perlman are arrested as deserters from the army.
While in the dungeon, Cage looks across into the other cell to see a woman he becomes instantly smitten with, apparently she is the witch who brought the plague upon them. Waitaminute, they have the witch in custody and they were just waiting for the legendary Cagemaster to finish her off, they have soliders why can’t they do it? Cage naturally agrees to take the young woman to her place of execution if she is given a trial; way to save your bacon dude. So Cage and Perlman, team with the priest of the village and some other guy who appeared out of no where and a criminal to go trekking through the East European wilderness to the abbey where she is to be dealt with. They release the young witch from her cell, and she immediately goes all River Tam on everybody until Perlman knocks her out, now you wanna reconsider your position Mr. Cage?
As the journey on, it becomes time for some male bonding chatter like, who slept with who and how every village the witch girl had gone to the plague killed everyone, normal stuff. As they journey on, it becomes painfully obvious that Cage has a screen behind him making it look like he’s riding a horse through the countryside and not just swaying himself back and forth. Suddenly Ron Perlman realizes they are being followed by another horseman and they go to confront him to discover it’s an altar boy from the village, and of course he is spunky young man eager to prove himself and proves his stupidity by insulting big bad Ron Perlman, which no matter what movie or show you’re in is never a good idea. They fight and the kid pulls some fancy moves that are completely wrong for the time period. But being a movie that needs a spirited young man for the kid demographic he is brought along. After darkness falls, Sir Nicholas Cage decides to chat up the witch, she tells him that he is not like the others in the posse but that he is kind, she obviously was not in the same crowd I was in when I saw Ghost Rider.
During the night, she is able to take the priest’s key and escape into the woods. As they search after her Team Witch Transporters are led to a mass grave and that’s where all the fun begins. The random guy begins hallucinating and hearing his daughter, I don’t know anything about this guy, so I assume he has a daughter who wanders around in the dangerous wilderness at night, and predictably, this is all some kind of trick and the poor guy walks right into a blade to his death. Oh…that guy?…we hardly knew ye,
seriously. But the journey continues right up to an old rickety bridge that could fall apart at any moment with an old guy in front of it asking them about their favorite colors and swallows. Not one to be deterred by certain doom, Cage crosses the bridge with the horse and tells them it’s safe as long as they go one at a time, except for the wagon which they have to rig up some kind of rope thing which almost gets Cage and the altar boy killed, but they make it nonetheless. But as soon as they make it across the bridge an ominous feeling overtakes the movie, or at least we’re supposed to believe it does because the characters mention it, oh and it’s foggy which is scary I guess. That night, the witch girl summons up a pack of wolves to surround the camp, but luckily for Cage and Crew, these aren’t the menacing wolves like in The Grey, these are bad CGI wolves who’s movements are so awkward and unnatural and the animation so poor that I can’t convince myself or anybody else that they are in the least bit threatening; but they do kill another Red Shirt of the group.
The wolf attack causes Cage and the priest to do a complete 180 in personalities and Cage decides to kill the witch, because at this point it makes sense, but the priest is trying to protect her, because character evolution happens when you least expect it, like a shark attack. As usually happens in these situations, Ron Perlman emerges as the voice of reason, getting the two guys to chill the frack out because if they just look to their left the abbey they are headed to is right freaking there. I guess in the Middle Ages peripheral vision had not been invented yet. They waltz inside without knocking or anything to find the place emptier than a theater showing Battleship. In fact everyone there is either dead or dying from the plague. The priest returns to his old form and decides to start throwing holy water and the witch and start his ritual, I’m not really sure what is going on, all the while the witch goes all Reagan from The Exorcist and starts using information about the characters to torment them, but the information is actually blatantly obvious; but as any horror movie fan knows this means she is not a witch but she is possessed by a demon. Nope, no sudden and unnecessary changes to the plotline here. Anyways, demon girl uses her demon powers to melt through her cage and escape, to which the priest says, “we’re going to need more holy water” cue the laugh track.
Demon Chick goes off into the abbey and Cage leads his team on a gothic horror version of hide-n-seek. As they creep, through the dark corridors of the building they realize that everything Demon Chick has done so far like killing their comrades has been for the purpose of bringing them there…except it hasn’t they have no way to justify this conclusion but sure, why not? In the Haunted Abbey of Doom they find a series of dead monks who have been copying down the Song of Solomon, and that a demon needed the girl brought there to stop the book because…something would happen and endless darkness would fall…somehow. When they discover the demon it’s in full on monster mode with wings and horns and poor CGI intact. The creature reanimates the monks to fight Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman but apparently she has never seen Ghost Rider or Hellboy, because they deals with stuff like this on a regular basis. The battle of mediocre proportions wages as the priest reads from his book of How to Get Rid of Demons and Build the Perfect Birdhouse Too by Sylvia Brown. Finally the Demon Chiock has enough and goes down to fight Cage but Perlman decides he’s badass enough to take on the monster and does so until he is burned alive. This leaves Nicholas Cage to fight the demon singlehandedly until the book of Getting Rid of Monsters can be read and the demon is vanquished without much of a fuss, but it leaves Cage mortally injured. And with his dying breath he tells the annoying alter boy to keep now demon-free girl safe. Those who died receive a good Christian burial and the survivors ride off into the mountains.
So was it as bad as I thought? It was bad but not as bad as I was hoping for, I was hoping for some insane Nic Cage antics and instead I got a bland movie parading as a supernatural melodrama about witches and demons and nonexistent character development. Instead of the expected half crazed performance from Cage, it was obvious he was just phoning it for a paycheck without having any fun at all, but I can’t blame him it seemed like the story of the movie was made up as they went along. The rest of the cast is just kind of there with nothing to do, except for Perlman who per usual does a solid job. Sadly this is not one of the terrible movies I can recommend to those of you looing for a good/bad time as this movie is blandness personified.