Black Death


With the Black Plague sweeping across Medieval England, a group of men are sent on a holy mission to destroy a village that has remained untouched by The Plague, a village that has disavowed God.

I can’t help but laugh at the logic that went into finding witches in Europe’s medieval past, even America’s colonial past. Tie a rock around them and throw them in a lake, if they float then they must be witches but if they drown…well then at least they were now with The Lord. Throw them off a cliff, if they flew away then they must be witches but if they perished in their drop…well then at least they were now with The Lord. Place them in an Iron Maiden (a steel tomb lined with spikes meant to pierce the flesh of their victims and let them slowly bleed out…also a great band), if the spikes cannot break the skin then she is a witch but if the spikes bleed the accused…well, once again, at least they were with The Lord, and their corpse would look wicked awesome. I’ve always wondered if it was the same then as it is now when it comes to religion, a small group of extremists that misrepresented an entire faith, or if the entire faith was really that insane. Today we have Islamic Extremists that blow themselves up, taking dozens of civilians with them, and Christian Terrorists who shoot abortion providers to “save a life”, both are only miniscule representations of their prospective faiths as a whole but extreme ones none the less.   Were witch burners a church sanctioned type of extremist or did superstitious peoples really look around every corner for a witch? If anyone reading this (possibly even in the far future) has a time machine and can answer that question, I would really appreciate the help…just saying…also, can you grab me an AC Pacer on the way back…I’ve always wanted one.

Anyhow, our story begins amid the chaos and death that is Medieval England during the Black Plague. People are dropping left and right as the disease spreads throughout the land killing peasant and nobleman alike, no one is safe from this sickness…except it seems for a village far beyond the marshes that has been untouched by an illness that would claim nearly three quarters of Europe before it ran its course, and it looks as though witchcraft is to blame for this village’s health. That’s the story told to a group of monks by a brigand of armed men arriving with a mission from the pope to destroy the blasphemers of a village that has abandoned God, hopefully discovering the secrets to their immunity to the Black Death in the process, and they need a guide as they don’t know their way through the dark forests and deep marshland surrounding their intended target. Enter Father Osmund, a monk with a crisis of faith who grew up in the very same forest our team of holy warriors need to cross. The group sets out to end the lives of the wicked on their sacred mission, but none other than Father Osmund seem to understand that in their quest to rid the world of evil, they have all become something far, far worse than the witches they seek to destroy.


{A merry band of brothers indeed}

This was one of those films that seemed to emotionally slap me in the face every chance it got, a film that sucked me in, keeping me firmly focused and having me every now and again forgetting I was just watching a movie. The film’s creators went for as much emotional impact as they could muster and I must say, they succeeded marvelously. This was one of most emotionally charged movies I have ever seen and was stunning enough to keep me completely entrenched. There aren’t many movies that can really get to my unbeating heart, but this was definitely one of them.


{Dead hearts can break too}

Of course for a movie to have this kind of impact it needs to have amazing actors capable of pulling off the performances necessary to deliver, and the director must have gone out of his way to make sure that happened because there isn’t a single bad actor here. Everyone puts out a beyond amazing performance and it’s these performances that make the movie the passionate film it was. Actor Sean Bean (you might know him better as Ned Stark) puts out the best performance of his career as the film’s faith driven fanatic Ulrich, a man ready to torture and kill anyone who goes against his God. There is one powerfully charged scene in particular near the end of the film that truly showcases his talent as an actor, a scene that just blew me away. I don’t want to spoil it because the ending to this film is amazing and I’m not going to ruin it, but I will say that it was one of the most intense sequences I’ve seen. While Sean Bean may be the film’s star, the other players still put out a noteworthy performance and they all deserve credit for making this movie such a gem.


{He looks significantly better with his head still attached}

As well as the great acting, the film’s story is also fantastic, propelling the movie along towards its spectacular ending. There isn’t a whole lot of action so it becomes the burden of both the acting and the story itself to keep the movie from sinking; thankfully the acting, as already mentioned, is great and the story is written with an artist’s touch. I think the thing I enjoyed the most about the story was the suspense and misdirection, the way I just knew there was more to these two groups of people, but the film kept pointing in the wrong direction, so much so that I didn’t see what was obvious until the very end.



The last thing that firmly put this one into my top ten was the play on religion and human nature as well as the fact that there really wasn’t a “good” guy or “bad” guy. There is a lot here about what it means to be religious, that while being religious is far from a bad thing, letting those convictions exonerate you of being a decent human being is. Another of the film’s lessons is that sometimes fear can cause people, even the most rationale of people, to grab onto anything that helps them better understand their situation and refuse to let go…no matter if it’s right or wrong as long as it helps them make sense out of something that terrifies them. Many of the people our group meets up with are trying to rationalize why everyone around them is dying and the only explanation for them is God must be pissed, so they react as humans react when panicked and do whatever they have to do in order to appease him, even if it is something distasteful. What was great was that even when the “holy” group comes across the nonbelievers, they are just as bad as the Catholics, both sides so afraid of what was happening that when it all came down, they just didn’t know what to do so instead they simply reacted. Because of this no one seems above doing what they have to do to survive, even some of the men who are kind in the beginning are cruel by the end. These two lessons mix perfectly and provide a film that is not only full of social commentary but also very philosophical at its heart.


This is easily one of the best films to come out in years and something no fan should miss. Even people who can’t stand horror are going to like this one, there is so much here that everyone is bound to be interested.


The Undead Review


Directed By: Christopher Smith (Severance, Triangle)

Starring: Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Silent Hill), Eddie Redmayne (Powder Blue, Powder Blue), Carice van Houten (Repo Men, Valkyrie)

Written By: Dario Poloni (Wilderness)

Released By: Magnet Releasing and Egoli Tossell Film

Release Year: 2011

Release Type: Limited Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
Image | This entry was posted in Movie Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s