Season of the Witch (Blu-ray Review)

I was recently disappointed in Nicolas Cage after viewing Drive Angry.  That combined with a growing history of dissatisfying films like Ghost Rider made me think that Nicolas Cage just doesn’t turn down movie roles anymore.  This makes me sad to say because I’ve been a fan of Cage for a long time.  When I received Season of the Witch I was hoping to be blown away, and that it would be so good that I would owe Nicolas Cage an apology for doubting him.  After all, I am one of the few people that enjoyed The Wicker Man, so I’m always hopeful that his movies may turn out to be good.  Was this another disappointment, or was this movie actually good?  Read on to find out…


Directed by Dominic Sena (Gone in Sixty Seconds), Season of the Witch follows two knights named Behmen of Bleibruck and Felson (Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman respectively) who have abandoned the Crusades for moral reasons. They are traveling across the country, hoping to keep from being recognized.  A stable boy notices the crest on Cage’s sword which results in their being quickly shown the way to the dungeon.  There they meet Anna (Claire Foy), a young woman accused of witchcraft.  Each town the girl has traveled through has been suspiciously afflicted with the plague, so the two knights are tasked with taking her to a monastery for her trial, in exchange for their own freedom.

After a long journey with a few companions picked up in various ways, the group arrives at the monastery to find that the monks have all been killed.  An artifact known as The Key of Solomon is kept there and it contains the holy rituals needed to defeat the evil they have encountered.  Until now the question has been is Anna a human or a witch but it becomes clear that she is something else entirely.  With the fate of the world in jeopardy, the two knights are forced to battle an evil far greater than they have could have ever imagined.

Season of the Witch has an excellent opening scene with three suspected witches being hanged and drowned.  When one of the witches doesn’t take too kindly to that, we see some good special effects.  After watching this scene, the movie appeared to be a real supernatural thriller, with the gloomy atmosphere that I love so much in Sleepy Hollow and Van Helsing. As the movie progressed, I found myself reminded of Van Helsing quite often as scenes from Season of the Witch could fit seamlessly into Van Helsing.  Unfortunately, the plot failed to impress me as much as the visual style does, and the middle of the movie really drags on far longer than it should.  Despite  the movie having an excellent opening , it’s followed by an over-long journey and it ultimately tries to cram way too many plot threads into the ending.

Nicolas Cage’s character isn’t that interesting since he spends most of the movie trying to determine whether or not the witch is a good person or not.  His sidekick Felson on the other hand, is a much more interesting character.  Felson reminds me a lot of Jayne Cobb from the Firefly series.  Felson has a good heart, but he also has a shady past he’s rather proud of.  Behmen, however does not have the equivalent charisma of Jayne’s captain, Malcom Reynolds.  Behmen tells a story of how Felson was recruited to join the Crusades because he was told that his sins will be forgiven in exchange for service.  For a few years of service he will be forgiven of sins like theft and adultery but as Felson proudly points out, he’s signed up for ten years for his colorful past.  I appreciated Felson’s sense of humor and wished that Behmen’s character had a little more depth.

Season of the Witch has a running time of only 95 minutes.  I can’t help but wonder if it had been given a longer run-time if it would have benefited from a script that would have provided more character development ?  I really think the screenplay needed some serious work, and even then, a longer film probably would have just been more of the same and I would still remain unimpressed.


While the story was lacking, the visual quality was not.  Season of the Witch is presented in an excellent AVC encoded 1080p transfer (1.78:1).  The film overall is dark, cloudy, and it’s color palette is almost always in black and blue hues.  The contrast is excellent and the black levels are suitably inky in the frequent dark scenes.  This movie has a very stylized look to it but the colors (when they are allowed to appear) aren’t sacrificed and there’s a great deal of detail present despite the dreary surroundings.  Both the Director of Photography Amir Mokri and Production Designer Uli Hanisch should be applauded for adding to the film’s impressive visual style.


Season of the Witch is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that compliments its distinctive visual style. Whether it is battle sequences, or a trek through the wolf-infested woods, the surround sound was excellent.  Dialogue is front and center but very clear and intelligible throughout.  There’s a lot of good effects work in this mix that is well utilized across all of the channels along with some nice cross-panning for certain scenes.  The various battle sequences sounded great, especially the final one with the demon and I was very happy with this mix.

Special Features  

When I don’t particularly enjoy a movie, the special features are quite a chore but these were better than I expected.  The Blu-ray contains the following features:

  • Deleted scenes – Seven deleted scenes give some extra insight into the characters of the film and their back-stories which should have been added to the final version of the movie.
  • Becoming the Demon – A look into the background efforts to bring the CGI demon to life for the film’s ending.
  • On a Crusade – A talk about the opening montage about the Crusade battles.
  • Alternate Ending – A different option for the film’s ending with a different take on the demon.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital Copy


Final Thoughts  

There is a lot that I didn’t like about Season of the Witch. It’s probably not a good thing that it kept reminding me of other better movies.  Season of the Witch seems to have copied the look and feel from Van Helsing, the battle sequences of The Lord of the Rings, but utterly failed to become its own film.  While the beginning created hope that it would be a great movie, the middle disappointed, and by the end, I just didn’t care any more as I just wanted it to be over.  I did enjoy the cameo by Christopher Lee, whose voice is so distinct that he’s still recognizable even when he’s hidden by sores and boils as a pestilent priest.  Once again though, he’s cameo just made me think of The Lord of the Rings. I will likely put this Blu-ray on the shelf and revisit it next year.  Maybe then, without my previous high expectations, I may grow to enjoy it as a whole.  For now, I’m pretty disappointed and I may be ready to stop watching movies simply because they star Nicolas Cage.  I’m on the fence about that, so I hope his next film is amazing and makes me sorry that I ever doubted him.

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2 Responses to “Season of the Witch (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Spenc

    I liked “The Wicker Man”–the ORIGINAL, but not that abortion remake.

  2. Allie

    I really don’t know why I continue to watch these movies with you. They aren’t even Shartopus quality bad. They are just bad.