“Black Death" Movie Review

2/09/2011 Posted by Admin

“Black Death"

Movie Review

Written by Dario Poloni, directed by Christopher Smith, 97 minutes, rated R.

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

“Black Death,” the new film from British director Christopher Smith, lives up to its foreboding title, painting a far more grim and complex picture of plagues and religion in the middle ages than its 2011 predecessor “Season of the Witch.” Despite the surface correlations, to put “Season of the Witch” in the same league as “Black Death” would be discourteous to the latter.

Osmund (Eddie Redmayne), a monk living in sin with a woman, Averill (Kimberly Nixon), is torn between his faith and his love for Averill – whom he has instructed to flee from the plague-stricken village. Osmund prays for some kind of direction. It comes in the form of Ullric (Sean Bean), a soldier of God who needs a guide to lead him to a village without the pestilence. Osmund jumps at the opportunity, which would allow him to reunite with Averill under the guise of serving his God.

Ullric's crew is a hardened bunch, each one caked in a layers of sweat, grime and scars. Yet they're all devout Christians. They're also formulaic allies that are fitting for the first leg of Osmund's journey – which fits comfortably into Joseph Campbell's “Hero's Journey.”

Their destination, it turns out, is not quite as Ullric had advertised. Ullric and his men have been told of a village without God, run by a demon (Carice van Houten) who can raise the dead. It's in the third act, when our soldiers arrive in the village, that “Black Death” finds itself, showing the extremes that many will go to to preserve their faith, whatever it may be. It can be as shocking as it is thought-provoking.

But the best trick that “Black Death” has up its sleeve is the ability to straddle supernatural and psychological themes, delicately treading on both as to not reveal its hand until absolutely necessary. Is it a horror movie or simply a movie with plenty of horrors?

It toys with its viewers (and characters), defies its genre and builds suspense in a way that is reminiscent of Robin Hardy's “The Wicker Man.”

From the script by Dario Poloni, director Christopher Smith proves that he is destined for great things – as well as a much deeper fan base. The way “Black Death” unfolds is nothing short of masterful, and much of the credit goes to Smith.

Grade: B+

"Black Death" is now available on Video on Demand, and hits theaters March 11, 2011. Below is the trailer, what are your thoughts?

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes