Sunday, June 5, 2011

Black Death

Well, I thought this film was pretty extraordinary.

I rented it the other day at the Redbox, because I was bored, I had nothing to do, and I was already at the grocery store so I figured I'd take a look. Nothing really grabbed my eye, except for this one which I knew only from the name and because it starred Sean Bean. According to the plot summary and the box cover, it was a period piece piece set in England during the height of the Plague in 1348. That was enough to sell me, since I love period pieces, I love English history, and I love Sean Bean.

And while it definitely was a work of a historical fiction about the plague, it was actually something of a horror film in disguise, since the setting, mood, and events were extremely unsettling, upsetting, and downright terrifying. The story centered around a knight played by Sean Bean and his band of compatriots who are sent to a town that has been spared from the horrors of the plague, either because they have been blessed by the grace of god or perverted by the evil power of the devil. I won't tell you what they find there, but it isn't pretty.

Sean Bean is very good in his role of the god fearing knight, and the rest of the cast of mostly unknowns are fantastic as well. The lead role was actually that of a young monk sent along with the knights as their guide, and it should have been a star-making performance by the astoundingly good Eddie Redmayne. It was also fun seeing Tim McInnerny as a very scary peasant who may or may not be in league with the devil. McInnerny may be best known as Percy and Captain Darling on Blackadder, but he is a very talented actor who proved with this role that he's just as good at being scary as he is at being funny.

As a period piece, this film was impeccably produced, with perfect costumes and stunning sets. As an action film, there's only one big fight scene, but it is incredibly violent and brilliantly put together. As a horror film, it'll have you on the edge of your seat and sitting in bed later on with the lights on for an extra hour or two. As a film about religious faith, it managed the extraordinary feat of appearing reverential of people with powerful faith, but wary of those who abuse it as well. As a film, anyway, it was very good and I highly recommend it, if you have the stomach for the gore and unsettling mood.

Two thumbs up.

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