THE VENGEFUL AND THE FILTHY PART ONE
Black Death (2010) Germany/UK
I hate war movies, I really do. I'm not that interested in history, and let's face it, war is mud and blood and death. But back in the 1300's in England it was also the plague. This movie was made and released really close to the Nicolas Cage movie Season Of The Witch. Tell you what, if you can only see one, see this one.
Save yourself the specter of Nicolas in greasy long hair trying to act concerned for anybody but himself. Besides this movie has the oh-so-watchable Sean Bean (Lord Of The Ring's Boromir and favorite victim of the ever popular meme) and a pleasant surprise that makes me wonder how I can forget what happened five minutes ago but hear a voice and I can place it no matter how long ago I heard it. Stupid brain.
So we're in the middle of England as its population is getting decimated by the plague. Of course then they had no idea what caused it, so talk of witches and sorcery flew and people suffered and died for that as well. The story revolves around a young monk named Osmund who is very naive and confused - he has sort of forsaken his vows by falling in love with a young (and still healthy) girl, Averill. Stealing some food, he gives it to her and asks her to wait for him in the forest and he'll be there and they can get away. He searches for a sign from God to help him. He thinks his prayers are answered when a group of knights, led by Ulric (Sean Bean) shows up needing a guide just by the place he was supposed to meet her. He goes with them.
Things fall apart, of course, rather quickly. These knights are tired, they are to the point where they would rather just wipe out anybody with even the taint of evil than see if they really are - in a word, their morals have fallen along with many of the dead in the horrid plague. Osmund is shocked to see their seeming brutality as he travels with them - their goal: a village has been reported to be free of the plague and so of course it must be because of a witch and a necromancer they believe to be keeping the disease out and also raising the dead (don't know quite how that got mixed into it) and so death must come to all.
Osmund is desolate - passing through the forest he has found bloody bits of Averill's clothing, and knows now that she is dead. They finally reach the vilage by the marsh and find it run by a woman - which of course back then instantly meant 'witch' because she didn't know her place, right? Oh, and everybody's healthy. So the knights declare war on this village with its pretty blonde leader Langiva (Carice van Houten) and her, uh, partner or whatever Hob (Tim McInnerny who, hearing him speak his first sentence had me running for my Blackadder DVDs... sure enough he played Percy in the first two installments and Captain Darling in the fourth) and their utopian-like village (they were the only ones who looked like they ever bathed). Soon though the soldiers are imprisoned and told they will be set free if they recant (deny God).
Osmund is staunch even seeing the supposed 'resurrection' of his beloved Averill by the witch. He finds her seemingly without thought (good almost-zombie behavior without all the makeup) and knowing she is an abomination, he kills her quickly. As the others are taunted to recant or be crucified, Langiva tells Osmund that HE killed his love - she was never dead, only drugged. Despite being tortured, only one recants and is set free - long enough to be hanged. Nice.
Ulric shouts that his men will never renounce God and for that he is prepared to be drawn and quartered. Ouch. But in pure Sean Bean style he stands, umm I mean kneels his ground and refuses to the end to recant. He asks Osmund, who was also released to open his shirt and reveals to the village that he has had the plague for some time and kept it secret. He dies a hero.
Through a series of coincidences that were a little too easy, the rest of the men get loose and go about slaughtering all they can catch. Unfortunately, although Hob is caught and put in some kind of see-through iron maiden to take to the Bishop as proof of their victory. It's not clear whether Langiva is a witch or not or whether she just knows a lot about medicine and is very intelligent (Intelligent women back 'in the day' were often thought to have evil powers 'cause hey, we women don't have brains, do we?) but what she does know better than they is the swamp and despite their chase, she escapes.
So now it is revealed that this utopian village had NOT been protected by a witch - it was just that it was an isolated place and thus free of the disease - until the knights came, especially since they spilled Ulric's blood all over the place. So they start to die. And the movie doesn't wrap in a pretty little package either - Osmund, knowing now that he killed a very much alive Averill now spends his days seeking revenge on the 'witch' Langiva - he becomes a knight and spends his time going from village to village to seek out and burn witches. Problem is, now in his eyes almost every woman IS Langiva and so he has no mercy towards anyone and kills without thought.
So this is one of those thinking type movies - these knights are supposed to be on God's side against Satan yet they rape, kill and pillage at will - the so-called Satan worshipers had a clean, healthy village (until the knights showed up) so who was more righteous? Who was more devout? And wash your hands.
Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.