Film Corner: Season of the Witch

Alright, pocket friends, today I am going to watch a B-movie that I remember liking, and it is *drum roll* a Nicolas Cage movie. "Okay, but that doesn't narrow it down, Ana." What if I told you it also has Ron Perlman in it? That's right, we're watching SEASON OF THE WITCH on Netflix.

This movie has everything you could want in a witch movie. Ambiguity, scary noises, and smiles from girls who should not be terrifying and yet somehow are. We start with Fantasy Catholics rounding up three women for witchcraft and the ladies being told to confess in order to save their souls. 1 confesses, 1 refuses, and 1 tells the priest to burn in hell. It's very Goldilocks up in here. The Fantasy Catholic priest kills them all, because Fantasy Catholic priests are the primary predator of women in fantasy movies. They're all hanged and it's very sad.

The priest wants to consecrate the bodies and the local chief of soldiery is like "dead's dead, fuck off" and wearily stomps away. Yeah, you tell him, local chief of soldiery who isn't superstitious like that priest guy. But in a reversal of audience expectations, it turns out this is a supernatural setting because one of the "witches" comes back to life as the priest tries to consecrate them. He gets killed dead. SMASH CUT TO TITLE AND THAT'LL TEACH YOU TO BE SKEPTICAL.

SMASH CUT TO THE DESERT. Nic Cage and Ron Perlman are crusaders in God's Holy Army and they're kinda tired of crusading. TIME FOR A MONTAGE OF BATTLEFIELDS. Tripoli! Imbros! Artah! Smyrna! All the fighting is overlaid with an opera going NUTS and a Fantasy Catholic Priest screeching about GOD'S ENEMIES while Nic and Ron become increasingly cynical about this whole holy war.

Their breaking point comes when they're ordered to kill a bunch of combatants and they realize about 20 seconds too late that it's actually Innocent Women and possibly some children. THEY DEFECT and FUCK OFF. Then they walk from Smyrna to...I think it's Scotland? Or France? I don't know. Europe. They're in Fantasy Western Europe.

They investigate an apparently abandoned farm house to find two dead bodies who are dramatically NOT QUITE DEAD AFTER ALL, just very very plague-ridden. Nic and Ron leave as quickly as humanly possible, burn the farmhouse down, and take their horses. (They burn the farmhouse down after they very definitely probably die.)

A city!! Ron says they might be recognized there, but Nic points out that they need supplies. Once inside, however, it seems like everyone has enough problems of their own: lots of plague sufferers and flagellants roaming the streets. A Nice Widower explains the plague situation to them (75% dead, historically accurate) and Nic and Ron buy horses and supplies from a guy who notices their sword crest. This is apparently enough to report them as deserters? I guess? Does no one ever earn an honorable discharge?

IT DOESN'T MATTER because the local constabulary has nothing better to do than arrest them. A priest intervenes and tells them to walk this way. Where are they going? To PLAGUE-RIDDEN POPE CHRISTOPHER LEE who is suffering from extreme makeup. The plague is caused by a witch (don't worry, they already arrested her, she just looks like a harmless young woman) and she needs to be taken to a monastery where they will perform a spell to bind her powers and stop the plague.

Nic politely tells the pope to fuck himself with a broom (this is Polite Monotone Nic we're getting in this movie, not Wild Inflections Nic) and they get tossed into prison. After listening to the girl crying all night, Nic tells Pope Lee that they'll take the girl to the monastery if she'll get a fair trial there. The priest says, basically, "we'll definitely think about that, sure," which is the Captain Awkward way of saying no.

MAPS. Nic and Ron and the Nice Widower from before (who is part of the party now, and god only knows why) point out to the Priest that they need a guide through the forest. Time to recruit a Disreputable Merchant who is in the stocks for selling fake relics. Hang on, I have to get a foods. Fantasy Western Europe always makes me hungry.

Ok! I have cold bacon, a hunk of cheese, a slice of bread, and cranberry juice like a real medieval peasant. "Actually, Ana, cranberries are from--" The French province of Shutthefuckup, yes, I know.

Nic recruits himself the Merchant Guide and now we're going to collect the "sedated" witch who promptly flings herself on the Priest and tries to strangle him. That is eventually sorted out and she's loaded into a wagon cage. As they leave town, Pope Christopher Lee quietly dies. The PRETTIEST BOY IN THE WORLD crosses himself and looks sad. Widower (nice, gentle) asks about the evidence against the girl. She muttered things no one understood and passed through towns which then got plagued. Widower gently points out that HIS town got the plague without any muttery girls passing through.

Ron and Nic note that they're being followed on the road. Why, it's the Prettiest Boy In The World! He's determined to enlist in their service in exchange for, idk, a recommendation on his college application? It's not really clear. You'd think there would be better character witnesses to glom onto than two disgraced defectors who are only doing this because the alternative is jail, but I'm not a CAREER COUNSELOR so what do I know.

Pretty Boy and Ron decide they're going to have a manly duel on the grounds that Ron hasn't beaten anyone up in a while and he's antsy. I've had Mondays like that. Pretty Boy is allowed to join the party on the grounds that he fights good and has utterly beautiful hair.

Nighttime. Nic brings the Witch food and blankets, and this is very nice and unusual (why? she's supposed to arrive at the monastery alive!). She tells him how witch trials usually go in her village and SPOILER you die either way. Back at the campfire, Priest is like "I strongly and most suspiciously recommend that you do not talk to that girl lest she tell you things that will cloud your mind about me." Nic makes a frown. Widower makes a frown.

Widower decides he's going to let the girl go because there's no way she's going to have a fair trial. Priest tries to stop him, gets too close to the cage, and gets stabbed by the girl, who then takes his key and runs for the hills--or, rather, a nearby...ruined town?? You'd think they would've camped there instead of in the forest. The party starts hallucinating at the village--or maybe it's just the Widower--and the nice Widower runs around until he impales himself on Pretty Boy's sword.

Priest annoys Nic by insistently insisting that the witch killed the Widower. The witch girl starts acting suspiciously by turning from innocent waif to seductive seducer. At least, this is treated as suspicious; myself, I would absolutely offer a blowie for freedom.

A rotten bridge over a chasm! While the others argue about how rickety it looks, Nic leads his horse over it to prove it's safe. A man of action. Getting the cage across is another story. Pretty Boy falls off the bridge and the Witch catches his wrist with one hand, then easily pulls him up with inhuman strength. That doesn't prove anything except that she works out. The opera is just going WILD and the bridge has fallen in the chasm but everyone managed to get across. Ron is upset that Nic takes his alcohol to disinfect the Priest's wounds.

Nighttime. Nic interrupts Merchant Guide on his way to attempt murder of the witch on the grounds that he doesn't want to die and he's got a bad feeling about her. Mid-conversation, the girl howls like a wolf from inside her cage. "Did you hear that?" she asks cheekily. Wolves howl in answering response all over the woods. Many wolves later, the Merchant is dead and Nic is fed up. He loads a crossbow and aims it at the witch while the Priest and Ron interfere because she has to be killed the right way in order to end the plague.

Uh-oh. Ron is making plans for after the mission, and wants to visit home. He's a goner. They've reached the monastery but OH-NO all the monks are dead. Fortunately they left behind their holy book and Nic points out that the Priest could perform the ritual. The ritual takes a while and the witch taunts them with all their sins, up to and including mimicing voices at them. Priest is like "aw hell, this isn't a WITCH, it's a POSSESSION" and it turns out you have to file a different form for that.

This is the LONGEST RITUAL IN THE WORLD, it's like God doesn't want his dudes to have a fighting chance. Demon-girl quickly burns through her cage, knocks the knights aside, and flies off. Pretty Boy gets himself knighted (for refusing to fuck off when told to do so by Nic) and honestly is there an oversight committee for these things? Like, can you just be all "yeah, I was field-knighted, take my word for it"? He's definitely not getting a coat of arms for this.

There is some DRAMATIC!! MUSIC!! at the realization that the witch (who isn't a witch, but "Season of the Possessed" was taken as a title, I guess) must have let them bring her to the monastery because she WANTS to be here. But she can fly, so I'm a little confused on that point. Was this a SECRET monastery? Probably not, since the grifter merchant knew the way there.

We're going to try reading this ridiculously long ritual ONE MORE TIME, and the fact that a demon is flying around and zombie monks are running about willy-nilly is just a MINOR DISTRACTION. Ron Perlman dies of terminal Shouldn't Have Made Plans For The Future, Bitch. It's sad. That Priest is still goddamn reading. READ FASTER. Oh, the Priest is dead and now the Pretty Boy is reading the ritual. Either it doesn't matter who reads it or his prior status as Altar Boy counts.

Demon is banished. Girl is naked. Nic Cage dies from terminal badass.

Pretty Boy inherits Naked Girl as his new girlfriend.

Twist: Her name is Ana.

Double Twist: I'm not naked.

Oh, apparently she's not me, she's just someone with my name.


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