Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.
Written by: Dario Poloni
Directed by: Christopher Smith
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Carice van Houten, David Warner, Kimberly Nixon
Osmund (not Donnie OR Marie, sadly) is a young monk back in 1384 who is living through the Black Plague, but not having a very good time during that one. He’s conflicted, and is thinking about breaking away and running off with a hot blonde…hey, no arguments here. Enter the Bishop’s envoy, who shows up telling stories of an isolated village somewhere out there that is free from The Plague, and they all think there’s an eeeeeeeevil deal with the Devil himself afoot here. So he drafts Osmund to be his guide, and they set off into the haunted forest to find this village, confront the eeeeevil, have whacky adventures along the way, and most importantly – kick arse for The Lord!!
More times than not, I’ve noticed that many movies out there with heavy religious overtones have sent me into a glazed-eyed funk. Not really sure why, but I just don’t dig on most of them. I truly do think THE EXORCIST keeps getting funnier every single time I see it, but yet I’m one of the few I know who really loved END OF DAYS. Go figure. So for me, BLACK DEATH falls somewhere in between.
Sure, it has many religious inflections, but it also spices things up with conflict, violence, some Spanish Inquisition (NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!) types of implements strapped all over a horse-drawn carriage, which is all cool, no doubt about that. But through all the conflicts and scares along the way to the evil village that has seemingly made a pact with the Big Red Horned Dude, there’s also a few other things I wasn’t counting on…things like more blood than I’d counted on for one, very dark humor for another, and one thing that surprised me more than anything else – little sparks of humanity in an extremely dark and violent time.
Of course though, I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile for one reason above all else, so I’m very grateful that The Big Bossman decided to send this flick to me to review – I’m a huge fan of director Christopher Smith, and anxiously await anything he has coming out even more than I look forward to my nightly glass of Scotch. I really liked CREEP the more I watched it, got a charge out of TRIANGLE, but it was his sophomore effort SEVERANCE that just blew me away, and remains my favorite of his to this day, as well as one of the best British horror/comedies to come along in the last decade at least.
What can I say about the actors that’s anything new from what you expect from any of them already? Not much, I’d suppose, only to reassure you that every single one of them are in top form here – they must have really dug the material and identified with their characters, as they truly make you believe they’re on this huge noble mission. I guess I should say this before I move on; Sean, I still love your work – you rock, and I do not hold THE HITCHER remake against you. Even though sometimes I still think I should…
From what I can find on the world wide intraweb, right now I am a lucky lucky lucky lucky boy, as I can’t seem to find a theatrical or DVD release date for this sucker anywhere. But I will say this – BLACK DEATH, while not as epically cool or over the top as Smith’s classic SEVERANCE, is still worth keeping an eye out for. It’ll make you squirm once or twice, laugh once or twice, and even…dammit…think more than once. Make no mistake; by the time the end credits roll, this is not a happy movie. But dammit, it’s a good gruesomely entertaining flick that needs to be in your DVD player as soon as you can find it!