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14TH-CENTURY KNIGHTS TRANSPORT A SUSPECTED WITCH TO A MONASTERY, WHERE MONKS DEDUCE HER POWERS COULD BE THE SOURCE OF THE BLACK PLAGUE.
In a time when the mere accusation of witchcraft was often enough to send someone to the gallows, Season of the Witch slams you right into the middle of the devil-fearing, superstitious Middle Ages, where both the plague and finger-pointing run rampant. It's in this loaded environment that two deserters from the Crusades are recognized when they chance going into a plague-ridden town, and are subsequently arrested and offered a simple choice by the local cardinal Christopher Lee: rot in prison or escort an accused witch to an abbey where she will undergo trial. But rarely are such tasks as black and white as that. Former knights Behman Nicolas Cage and Felson Ron Perlman initially decline the offer, but after they encounter the young girl Claire Foy accused of witchcraft in prison, and see that she has been beaten, they agree so long as she is guaranteed a fair trial by the monks. The rest of their party consists of a young priest, a knight in mourning over the loss of his family, a merchant who knows the way through the forest, and an altar boy who wants nothing more than to be a knight. The party sets out through misty forests, crosses the requisite rotten rope-and-wood bridge, and encounters dangerous wild animals. Whenever the opportunity arises, the girl accused of witchery plays each of her captors against each other--using knowing glances and obvious deception--and themselves until it's hard to tell if she's actually innocent of the crimes she's accused of committing. One of the movie's saving graces is that none of the actors attempts a fake accent. The other is Perlman's Felson. He seems to get most of the droll, chuckle-worthy lines "Keep your souls and find me a chicken." "As dungeons go, this one isn't bad." and delivers them with enough tongue-in-cheekiness that you sense he, at least, is having some fun. While there are enough action scenes and quippy lines to keep the story from completely faltering--the ending does have an unexpected twist--it can be hard to find, what with the stilted, occasionally overacted dialogue and predictable plot line. --Jill Corddry