REVIEW: Black Death

Christopher Smith is one of the brightest and entertaining horror director's in Britain, having produced the excellent Severance, Creep and Triangle. His latest offering Black Death, is just as good.

As the title suggests, the film in plague-ridden England and follows a young monk (Eddie Redmayne) and knight (Sean Bean) on a mission from an Abbot (the excellent David Warner) to hunt down a necromancer, someone with the ability to bring the dead back to life. What follows is The Wicker Man meets Witchfinder General, with a little bit of Ken Russell's The Devils. That may or may not sound appealing to you, but the end result is excellent.

Despite a somewhat slow opening, showing Osmund, the monk's love for a young woman and the practices of the abbey, the film soon turns into a medieval action movie when the group set off as they are immediately ambushed by a band of natives of the woods. The story really gets gripping when the group arrive at the village, and they slowly notice the Pagan traditions of the villagers, what follows is the heroes being captured and suffering through horrible pagan rituals. These are conducted by Carice Van Houten and Blackadder's Tim McInnery. Van Houten's performance is exceptional, it feels like she's channelling Christopher Lee from The Wicker Man, she is on top form.

The film is exceptionally well shot and atmospheric, with it's locations being used to their full potential, creating the idea of impending doom without having to rely on shock tactics and cheap frights.  Despite some minor plot holes, the film works exceptionally well and the ending is perfectly grim.

This is how Season of the Witch should have been!

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