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Rafer Guzman, McClatchy Newspapers, Published January 07 2011

Cage, Perlman battle evil in ‘Season of the Witch’

MOVIE REVIEW

“Season of the Witch”

Reason meets superstition in “Season of the Witch,” starring Nicolas Cage as a 14th-century knight who encounters a young girl possessed by evil. Or is she?

Yes, she is, which would be a spoiler if it weren’t revealed so early in the movie. But even lacking that suspense, “Season of the Witch” still offers spooky forests, rabid hellhounds, zombie-monks and the sight of Cage emoting through 50 pounds of chain-mail. In other words, not the worst way to spend 91 minutes during a slow movie month.

Cage and Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”) play Behmen and Felson, rough-riding, mead-quaffing crusaders known for slaughtering infidels and closing down taverns in hot spots like Smyrna and Edremidt. But after taking part in a kind of Middle Ages My Lai massacre, they desert their outfit in search of more peaceable pastures.

Instead they stumble into a village cursed by plague, apparently the work of a nameless young witch (Claire Foy). After some strong-arming from a dying cardinal (Christopher Lee, under layers of latex pustules), the renegade knights agree to transport her to a far-off abbey to stand trial. They’re accompanied by a young priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), a shady guide (Stephen Graham), a grieving father (Ulrich Thomsen) and an altar boy (Robert Sheehan). Not all will survive, but you knew that.

Director Dominic Sena (“Gone in 60 Seconds”) sets a quick pace; the dull moments are brightened by the unexpectedly likable team of Cage and Perlman. As for the ending, it’s ridiculous. Perhaps you can find forgiveness in your heart.