Black Death Movie Review

Black Death Movie Review


This is one dark upcoming movie. “Black Death” is set in 1348, just as the plague took hold of Europe, cutting its population by half and filling the world with panic. It seems odd that Christopher Smith chooses this time to pitch a horror film because the time was already full of horror. He adds demons and magicians to the pestilence and then ends up with a sort of historical/horror/morality story that has a bit of the documentary to it and a dark attraction to violence.

What this means is that new movie, “Black Death,” is without a real audience. There are no laughs – and horror film fans like to laugh AND scream. One has to give Smith credit for not dabbling in strange visual effects like “Season of the Witch” did. This movie needs a lot of medieval history fans to fill up the theaters, something that probably isn’t going to happen.

New movie release “Black Death” is quite similar, in storyline, to “Season of the Witch.” In both movies, the church’s grip on the peasants fails due to the plague and Christian knights are sent out to see if there it’s witches, demons, or pagans who are causing this horrible disease.

In “Season of the Witch,” the church is portrayed as if filled with villains from cartoons who would do just about anything in the name of God. That movie does well with devils. Smith and his screenwriter, Dario Polonio, in “Black Death,” get into real horror with terrible infections and death without pity which spreads panic everywhere. They see the church as looking for scapegoats as all authority fails.

The movie focuses on two men, both religious. Ulric, a knight played by Sean Bean, really believes that it’s okay to kill in the name of God, and Osmund, an innocent monk, played by Eddie Redmayne, who has fallen in love with a woman so he knows that nothing is ever totally black or white.

The monk is told to lead the knight and his killers into an area where there is said to be a group who appear to be immune to the plague. This is then obviously a group into witchcraft or devil worship. The soldiers bring a torture machine with them.

The monk’s devotion is tested when there’s a run in with highwaymen and another incident involving the woman he loves. When the group finds the people who have yet to get the plague, these people resemble members of a commune of hippies. The cult leader is a woman and played by Carice van Houten. Cult members are into free love and they live in good health. The soldiers just can’t wait to start the torture but the leader saw them before they saw her.

Then there’s a test between the believers and the non-believers. They’re all so awful that you don’t know which group to root for!

The cast is all British and includes John Lynch, who plays the knight’s assistant, Andy Nyman, a happy torturer, Emun Elliott plays a mercenary, and Tim McInnerney is the assistant to the commune leader. The movie was filmed in the Sachsen-Anhalt region of Germany which is conveniently dark and brooding. The camera is hand held and adds to the documentary feel.


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