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Film / Season of the Witch

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Season of the Witch is a 2011 supernatural-themed action adventure period film starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as former Crusade Knights who must transport a witch to a monastery.

Not to be confused with Halloween III: Season of the Witch or the 1973 Romero film of the same name.

The film provides the following tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: In the opening battle scenes, Behman accidentally killed a woman civilain, which drives him to question his reasons for fighting as a knight.
  • Artistic License Biology: The Black Death is portrayed as a leprosy-like disease that causes boils all over the face and hideously disfigures its victims. In reality, the disease, by most accounts, only caused swellings in the lymph glands (the throat, armpits and groin).
  • Artistic License History: The film has systematic witch hunts/trials begun early. In reality, they started after the Black Plague (probably as a way to blame someone, like the film shows) though the Church wasn't involved like this. Mostly witchcraft was considered superstition by the Church and not formally recognized then as real. They certainly had no Inquisitors or equivalent set up to prosecuted supposed "witches" then, since it wasn't yet recognized as a crime by the Church. It also portrays the Black Plague early, as it's 1344 but the outbreak in Europe was 1347.
  • Artistic License Religion: The Catholic Church believes that demons can be exorcised with a single ritual, and no special rare book is needed. Granted, the ritual in the movie requires reciting a very lengthy prayer, so it's likely the book is needed because it contains the prayer for reading as such a long prayer would be near impossible to memorize.
  • The Atoner: Behman feels guilty over accidentally killing a woman during a siege. The Demon later mocks him for thinking that saving the accused girl would atone for the far greater number of innocents he's killed.
  • Batman Gambit: The demon possessing Anna fakes being a witch so that it will be taken to the location of the sole book with the ritual to send it back to Hell, in order to destroy it.
  • Big Bad: Baal, the demon who possesses Anna, is the main antagonist of the film.
  • Body-Count Competition: Loser buys the drinks. You take the 300 on the left, I'll take the 300 on the right. However they note, that will just leave the score at 300:300.
    Behman: Fine I guess I'll just have to kill all 600 myself.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Felson greatly enjoys his fights and is quite a fun guy overall.
  • Burn the Witch!: Averted in the prologue where three accused witches are shown being hanged, then drowned in case they're Not Quite Dead. Unfortunately for the priest carrying out the ritual, one of them definitely isn't.
  • Butt-Monkey: Through the course of the movie, the all-ready-unfortunately named Debelzaq gets stabbed through his palm with his own cross, rope burns on both of his hands, a lot of accusations of molesting the witch and he dies without much of a fanfare.
  • Cardboard Prison: It turns out the girl could have escaped from her cage at any time.
  • Ceiling Cling: The possessed monks in the final battle ambushes the heroes by clinging across the monastry's ceiling, gecko-style.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Kay the chorister's ability to pronounce Latin allows him to finish the ritual that destroys the Demon.
  • Damsel in Distress: Anna the "witch" is actually an innocent girl possessed by a powerful demon; upon finding out Behman does all he can to save her without killing her.
  • Demonic Possession: The witch is actually a girl possessed by a demon.
    Debelzaq: This is no witch! [begins frantically performing an exorcism]
  • Diving Kick: During the opening battle montage, Behman managed to take down an enemy soldier about to cut down Felson by leaping across the battlefield and landing, armoured-kneecap first, into the enemy.
  • Dwindling Party: The people making up the convoy get picked out one by one by the witch, directly or indirectly; only a literal handful are left by the time they reach the monastery.
  • Evil Plan: The villain is a demon that seeks the only book with the knowledge to banish it back to hell in order to destroy it and the entire movie is the heroes helping them find it.
  • Eye Scream: Right in the finale, Behman briefly had his eye slashed out by a zombie monk who had him pinned down. Onscreen.
  • Fantasy Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: The planned journey is 400 leagues — that's 1,200 miles — in six days on horseback and much of it through heavy woods.
  • Game Face: Both witches and wolves have scary faces when they're attacking.
  • Heel Realization: At the start of the film when Behman and Felson find themselves killing innocent women and children, they realize what they've been doing and decide to desert the Crusades.
  • Helmets Arehardly Heroic: A rare aversion. Both Behman and Felson put on helmets before going into battle in the beginning of the film. For the rest of the film they do not, but it's justified since they are no longer in service and have dispensed of their heavy armor.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Both Behman and Felson die to give Kay time to complete the exorcism. In Behman's case, it's also implied he would rather die himself than resort to tactics that would also kill the demon's innocent host.
  • A House Divided: Subverted. It looks like the witch is trying to turn the group against each other, but she's only removing anyone who'll stop her from getting to the abbey.
  • Irony: Early in the film, when wondering what the punishment for desertion is, Ron Perlman said he would rather be executed by hanging than burning. During the climax of the film, he is incinerated alive in the demon's "bear hug"
  • MacGuffin: The Key of Solomon is the whole reason for the journey. They need it to deal with the witch.
  • Naked on Revival: When the Demon is destroyed, Anna — the girl it was possessing — reappears in its place naked. This is justified because when the Demon transforms her body to resemble it, her dress is ripped off.
  • Neck Lift: The Demon does this to Behman. For priests it prefers the Neck Snap.
  • No Name Given: No one cares what the the witch's name is so the audience doesn't learn it. Then she's exorcised and introduces herself as Anna.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Nic Cage and Ron Perlman play 14th century Europeans with broad American accents. Bizarrely inverted with the supporting characters, most of whom were played by British or European actors. The director apparently instructed them all to speak with American accents, presumably to blend in with the lead actors. Unfortunately, none of them were using the same American accent. Very few of them were using it consistently.
  • Not What I Signed on For: When Behman confronts his superiors following his Heel Realization, he's told that he pledged his life to their cause. He retorts by saying that he pledged himself to God's work, not for slaughtering civilians.
  • Oh, Crap!: After the Cute Witch turns into a One-Winged Angel with Super-Strength who can melt its way out of its cage.
  • Offhand Backhand: Done on a charging wolf, no less.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're people who have died of plague who have become possessed by minor demons. Cutting off their head works just as well.
  • The Plague: The Black Death is present here.
  • Playing with Fire: The Demon Baal can summon fire-based attacks, such as launching fireballs or incinerating his victims by wrapping them in his wings. Exhibit A: Felson
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: A clean decapitation is the only method possible for killing a possessed monk, where upon removal of the cranium their life force will leak out of their necks turning them back into corpses.
  • Retirony: Both Behman and Felson had chosen to retire from the crusading life, only to be persuaded to go on one last holy quest. They die near the end.
  • Rope Bridge: The predictably rickety bridge over the gaping chasm.
  • Savage Wolves: Dire wolves, even. They give our heroes a lot of trouble.
  • Stealth Pun: Everyone's pronunciation of "Debelzaq".
  • Super-Strength: The first clue the girl isn't some innocent scapegoat tortured into making a false confession is when she demonstrates strength beyond that of humans.
  • Tempting Fate: As soon as Felson mentioned how he wanted to go back home after this was all over, you know he's dead meat.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • In TV spots, it is revealed that the witch turns into a demon.
    • The beginning of the movie implies that the girl might just be a misunderstood innocent caught in a witch hunt. Anyone who's seen a trailer for the movie knows this isn't the least on the surface. True, the 'witch' isn't a witch at all, and she's entirely innocent. It's the demon possessing her that's the problem.
    • The trailer gives away the fact that the inhabitants of the monastery have been turned into zombies.
  • Use Your Head: Felson is quite fond of this. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on the Demon.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The heroes are charged with taking their prisoner to a monastery for trial and possible execution, but whether they arrive safely or not works to their prisoner's advantage. If any of them try to kill her before they get there, out of paranoia or whatever, murder is a mortal sin. If any of them die before reaching the monastery, the demon has less interference to destroying the book needed to send it back to Hell. The heroes are leading them right to it.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: In the prologue, one of the accused witches confesses thinking her life will be spared.
    Accused: "Wait, you said you would spare me!"
    Priest: "Your soul, child. But your body must be consigned to God for absolution."