I consider myself to be a Nicolas Cage fan, ever since I saw 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas. Con Air, The Rock & Face/Off only solidified his status as a major leading Hollywood star in my book and I tried watching all of his movies. But he does give us a few movies which disappoints, especially this one, Season Of the Witch, although it looked to me to have held a lot of promise. What’s more he has the formidable Ron ‘Hellboy’ Perlman as his companion & side kick. How did it go wrong?
As the movie first starts we see three women, who are accused of witchcraft, hung to death over a bridge. Late, after bringing up their bodies from the river, a priest performs a ritual to prevent their bodies from coming back to life. While successfully completing the ritual for two of the bodies, the third takes on a demonic appearance and kills the priest. Now we get to out heroes. Set in the 14th century, Cage & Perlman star as two Tuetonic knights (Behman & Felson respectively) who take part in many of the battles in the 1330s as part of the Smyrniote crusades. Having got tired of the massacres of civilians that happen after the battle is won, the two grew bitter and leave the army and are branded as deserters. They leave the order and decide to go back home to Germany.
On their way back they are shocked to see the horrors of the black plague that has swept across the Roman empire. At Marburg the two are recognized as knights and arrested as deserters. They are taken to the Cardinal, who is also affected by the plague (played by an almost unrecognizable Christopher Lee) as well. The Cardinal asks the knights to escort an alleged witch suspected of causing the plague, to a remote monastery where an elite group of monks reside, capable of determining if the girl is truly a witch. If she is found guilty, the monks know a sacred ritual that can cancel her powers, and stop the plague that is devastating Europe. Agreeing on the condition that she is to be given a fair trial, the two knights are joined by a priest Debelzeq, Kay of Wollenbarth, a young altar boy who wants to become a knight like his deceased father, Eckhart, a knight whose family were killed by the plague, and the well-traveled swindler Hagamar who is serving as their guide to the monastery in return for a pardon. The witch, a young girl later identified as Anna, shows hatred towards Debelzeq and forms a bond with Behmen.
As they camp for the night while sitting in watch, Eckhart tells Debelzeq about his daughter Mila, who resembled Anna. When Eckhart gets up to leave, Anna becomes hysterical at the prospect of being left alone with the priest, attacking him and grabbing his key to the cage. She escapes and flees toward a nearby village. While the men search for her, Echhart sees visions of his dead daughter and running towards them, he impales himself on Kay’s sword & dies. When they recapture her, the tearful Anna explains that she only ran away for fear of Debelzeq. Wary of her, the group moves on and manage to cross a rickety rope bridge, where Anna manages to easily lift a falling Kay with just one hand! Scared of her, Hagamar tried to kill her only to have her summon wolves who chase the group and eventually kill the thief. An enraged Behmen tries to kill Anna, but is stopped by Felson, who points out that the monastery is in sight.
Once the reach the monastery, they see that all the priests have been killed by the plague, but they manage to locate the Key of Solomon, an ancient book with spells to defeat evil. Reciting spells to be used against witches, Debelzeq comes to understand that Anna is not a witch but rather possessed by a demon, when she starts reciting events from Behman’s past that she could not have known and he frantically starts an exorcism. However, the demon that is possessing Anna reveals itself and melts the metal. The demon effortlessly fights off the knights, but when Debelzeq throws a vial of holy water on it, it flies away out of sight. It sends little demons to possess the dead monks, who arise and fight the group, intent on destroying the book.
The three men fight the possessed monks while Debelzeq continues the exorcism ritual. During the fight, the demon kills Debelzeq, then proceeds to kill Felson. Kay picks up the book and continues the ritual, while Behmen continues fighting the demon. Behmen is mortally wounded during the fight, but Kay is able to finish the ritual and the demon is obliterated, freeing Anna. Behmen asks Kay to keep Anna safe, then dies of his wounds. Kay and Anna bury their fallen friends, and Anna requests that Kay tell her about the men who saved her; they depart from the monastery with the book in hand.
The story is nothing new, rather dull I would say. Nothing to impress viewers. Perlman is almost in the sidelines for this one. I’d give it a 6 outta 10.