"Season of the Witch" is one of those movies that probably would have gone straight to SyFy/Sci-Fi, if it didn't have an A-list actor attached. It's a murky, rather rushed historical creep-out that blossoms into silly horror at the end, after a long journey where not very much happens. Ron Perlman is awesome, though.
Disgusted with the slaughter of the Crusades, knights Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Perlman) desert the army to return home to... somewhere. I think it's England, but I'm not sure.
They arrive in a town infested with the Black Death, and are quickly arrested. But the local bishop (Christopher Lee) offers them a way to clean their slates -- take a witch (Claire Foy) who is blamed for the plague to a distant abbey where she will be depowered courtesy of an ancient spellbook. The embittered Behman doesn't believe she's a witch, but he agrees nevertheless.
Along with a priest, a soldier, a swindler and an altar boy who dreams of knighthood, the two knights take the suspected witch on the perilous journey. But soon Behman starts to suspect that there's something unnatural about her -- she has super-strength, summons wolves, and even makes one man hallucinate right to his death. But no one can guess the horrific truth about what she is until they reach the abbey.
"Season of the Witch" isn't a horrible film, but it is resolutely mediocre -- it has the feel of a movie where nobody was really trying very hard. In fact, the first three-fourths of the movie just sort of ooze by with lots of dirty medieval villages, spooky hints about the witch girl, and lots of misty forests full of giant wolves.
Even the cameramen and screenwriters aren't trying too hard. It's almost impossible to see what the heck is going on in the fight scenes, except that there are lots of swords and leaves. The dialogue is pretty standard buddy-cop stuff, and is laid out in a hodgepodge of inconsistent accents. Are these Crusaders SUPPOSED to sound so American?
The movie does pick up for about ten minutes when the characters reach the abbey -- storms of darkness, zombie monks, incantations, and a decent Linda Blair impression. The problem is.... we see the bad guy. And it looks RIDICULOUS -- I've seen Star Trek prosthetics that were scarier than that, especially when it starts flitting, scuttling and spinning around the place.
The acting is pretty lackluster -- Cage is phoning in his performance, and most of the supporting characters are so blandly underdeveloped that you can't really care when they get offed. I will say that Stephen Campbell Moore does a decent job as a priest whose faith helps him overcome his fear, and Robert Sheehan and Claire Foy are very earnest in their roles. Oh, and Ron Perlman is lots of fun as Felson. It's pretty obvious he knows he's in a stinker, so he decides to have fun with his laid-back, fun-loving character.
"Season of the Witch" could have been a semi-decent horror thriller if it had kept the bad guy hidden, but that makes the entire climax fall apart.