When a movie gets knocked around from one crummy release date to another one would assume that it is pretty awful. However even I a knowledgeable and open-minded film geek wasn’t prepared for the monstrosity that is Season of the Witch a medieval mess that has reportedly been in the works for a decade. You’d never be able to tell so many years of preparation went into this sad excuse for a B-movie based on its laughable CGI dialogue and contrived premise. How many flavors of bad is this supernatural stinker? Sample this…
A period horror action flick Season of the Witch is initially set in a cursed city suffering from the Black Plague that has deformed and decimated the majority of its population. The disease has been unleashed as a result of a literal witch-hunt gone wrong. Ancient evil forces are afoot and the blame is put on a young girl who the Church believes is a witch. Though imprisoned in the dungeons of a castle her power reigns supreme. Enter Behman (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) Knights of the Crusades who happen upon the city on their way back to civilization. Once recognized as deserters they are imprisoned and given the choice to remain captive or lead a suicide transport mission to a remote monastery where the girl’s innocence or guilt can be determined. If deemed evil she is to be destroyed.
The premise though far from original could have been cool if executed with some style but director Dominic Sena (Gone In Sixty Seconds) is incapable of making it enjoyable. Instead of creating suspense through eerie environments he settles for cheap thrills that fall short every time. His use of CGI is painfully bad conjuring effects that would’ve looked dated around the turn of the century. Most insulting is the film’s big “twist” - a lazy paradigm shift so easily foreseeable the movie should have just been called The Devil’s Advocate. Is that not bad enough for you? Just wait it gets better (read: worse).
Stars Cage and Perlman are Razzie bound with a pair of pathetic non-performances. The accomplished actors don’t even try to get into character. Rather they don period garb shield and sword and run around like cheap imitations of their former selves for two hours. You won’t hear any attempts at English accents because apparently 14th Century Knights are just like contemporary buddy cops. With this little effort being put forth by the two men who are essentially the reason folks will pay to see the movie Season of the Witch doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. The supporting cast which includes Ulrich Thomsen Stephen Graham and Christopher Lee try to bear the burden but cannot undo the damage that Cage and Perlman inflict upon this film. The scariest thing about Season of the Witch is the movie itself an abomination of bad filmmaking and terrible acting.
Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries) has no doubt he's the next George Jones. In search of stardom he leaves his wife (Daryl Hannah) and baby steals her pink Chrysler and embarks on a nine-month tour of every dive western town he can hit on the way to Los Angeles. He takes with him his ineffectual manager Les (Garrett Morris) who guides Sunny's every move from picking out his clothes to setting up his interviews. Along the way Sunny encounters a variety of backwater females who are ready (but not always able) for a one night stand: Janice (Peggy Lipton) proves too much for him; Cheryl (Crystal Bernard) passes out on the couch; Tangi (Camellia Clouse) Cheryl's teenage daughter tries unsuccessfully to seduce him. Nothing seems to go right for Sunny who gets arrested dumps Les and ends up taking refuge with his just-as-much-a-loser brother Tracy (Anthony Edwards).
So nice to see Morris in this especially since his slick shyster Les is about the only character who manages to liven up this dreary pic. Gries is not funny not charming certainly not handsome--how he manages to get laid (or picked up) as much as he does is a confounding mystery. (The chicks are hicks to be sure but would Tangi the nubile teenager really be into a guy who's not only as old as her father but who looks like he's roped one too many steers as well?) Bernard pulls off her drunk scenes quite well especially when she falls off a bar bathroom toilet. Hannah's and Edwards's parts are basically cameos but in her few scenes Hannah nicely elicits sympathy as the frustrated and angry wife who sees no merit in her husband's gallivanting particularly since she's left with the baby and no money. Look for Mac Davis in a cameo as well as Sunny's big competition Sammy Bones.
Yet another set of brothers Michael and Mark Polish wrote and produced this follow-up to their 1999 Sundance success Twin Falls Idaho. But where Falls was a beautifully quirky look at unordinary people who want to be ordinary Jackpot is an overly arty look at some ordinary down-home folks who want to be extraordinary. Problem is they're so ordinary you don't care what they want or how they plan to get it. Michael who also directed keeps the pace slow and languorous--are these karaoke-ing schmoes ever going to get to their destination? Sitting through scene after scene of Sunny either picking up a woman or singing bad country and western is tediously painful. Not to mention the music sucks.