Fleeing from the Napoleonic Wars, British soldiers encounter evil within the Black Forest.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead.
It all begins with a battle. Bloody and intense, this film started off on the right foot. As the film progresses, however, things become increasingly convoluted and questionable.
The Necromancer, written and directed by Stuart Brennan, is set during the Napoleonic wars and features a group of British soldiers that decide to flee in order to heighten their chances of survival. For the first quarter of the movie, we follow these soldiers on their flight path through hills, valleys, and woods. We get a glimpse into the psyche of Logan, one of the main characters, and his questionable past. One part of the film that I really enjoyed was the effects of war on the soldiers and how it triggered other unpleasant thoughts and memories. This brought a lot more intrigue and tension into the storyline, which made the film a lot less boring than it could have been. As the soldiers advance farther into the woods, they stumble upon an injured soldier named Charles. They are reasonably conflicted and wonder whether he really needs help or is part of a set-up.
This is the point in the film where the plot takes off and the big issues start to appear. The group decides that the stranded soldier is not a threat and the farther they go into the forest, the more chaotic things become. One by one, the soldiers run into magical dark elves who use their guilt and past mistakes against them. This goes on until the necromancer is revealed and all of the soldiers meet their demise.
One of the things that bothered me most about the film was the title. Okay, maybe not the title itself, but what the title inferred. I expected “the necromancer” to play a bigger role in the film and the characters’ demise. Instead, it felt like the dark fairies did most of the work for him and his character was just thrown in for the hell of it. Because of this, the film didn’t make as much as an impact as it could have and it led to confusion and disappointment on my end. A better name for it may have been “Black Forest” or something more representative of the entire narrative.
Throughout the film, the errors in writing were blatant and obvious. In particular, there are scenes that contain inconsistencies and errors. One scene consisted of a character saying that an injured leg was probably fractured without even examining it or getting a closer look, and there were also lines that took away from the experience and were out of place in the narrative.
Another aspect of the film that fell flat was the character development. With only one exception, most of the soldiers’ personalities blend into each other and only their pasts really set them apart. However, the acting in the film was one of the better parts of the experience. Brennan shines as Logan and delivered a strong and believable performance. The actresses who played the dark elves also did an amazing job bringing their characters to life.
Besides the acting, the other positives of the film were the soundtrack and the setting. The striking violin in the music added to the tension and the immediacy of the story and the woods made the fear of the unknown a lot more real and intense while giving the illusion that the set was larger than it actually was.
Ultimately, The Necromancer had a really cool concept and a lot of interesting things to say about guilt and how just thinking about it can eat you alive. These concepts, unfortunately, fell flat for the most part due to poor execution. As much as I loved what Brennan was going for, I do not recommend this film due to the feeling of disappointment that I felt as the story played out and the way that certain ideas were executed within the film.
I give The Necromancer a D.