Archive for Black Death

Sound and Fury

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by dcairns

The landscapes of BLACK DEATH are the highlight — photographed by Sebastian Edschmid, they drizzle and waft with just the right blend of impressionism and tactile grit. As for the rest, what Dario Poloni’s script and Christopher (CREEP) Smith’s direction offer is the narrative shape of APOCALYPSE NOW transplanted to a medieval world influenced by Bergman and Verhoeven. But it critically lacks any sense of a climax, and gets dragged down by a prolonged postscript. Characters are, for the most part, regulation thugs, and although Eddie Redmaybe as the novice monk is clearly differentiated from the crew of bullies surrounding him, neither he nor they have any convincing relationships. It’s a film where you don’t believe anybody gives a crap about anybody else, or anything. Sean Bean is forceful as the fanatical knight leading the expedition to investigate a village suspiciously free of pestilence, and Carice Van Houten (BLACK BOOK) is good and mysterious, with her unplaceable non-accent, as the cult leader they find. All the cast are good, in fact, but none make much impression.

Basically, when the film isn’t wowing you with scenery or waaah!ing you with bloodshed, it’s a bit of a flatline. Unlike Michael Reeves’ WITCHFINDER GENERAL, which seems like another obvious influence, the film seems fatally uncertain of its overall point. Reeves’ exploration of the destructive, infectious nature of cruelty and violence was very much from the heart — it’s questionable whether the director of SEVERANCE has such deep feelings on the subject. The movie is utterly devoid of humour, but doesn’t seem deep-down serious either.

Needless to say, it makes me worry about what my own horror movie scripts might be doing wrong…

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