Black Death is the latest film by director Christopher Smith, the bloke that directed the much better Triangle, Creep and Severance. Black Death takes place in 1348 during the infamous plague that ravaged medieval England. It stars Sean Bean as a knight named Ulrich who gathers a band of mercenaries to follow a young rogue monk named Osmond, played by Eddie Redmayne, in hunting down a necromancer who is said to have powers of bringing the dead back.
The film takes its fucking sweet time to unfold.....not that this is a particularly bad thing....it's just that I would've liked this film to have been directed by Neil Marshall. That guy doesn't fuck around with pacing. Fortunately, the story is pretty tight and the acting is above average. Especially Sean Bean's acting. He's so good in this film...rumor has it that he's no longer acting in anything else other than epic medieval films. He'll be doing the same act in the upcoming HBO original series....A Game of Thrones, if you need further evidence of his fine medieval acting prowess. This is basically his film. As he leads his men to a far off village said to be unaffected by the plague, he and his men are beset by many unfortunate pitfalls...until they meet the lovely witch named Langiva, played by Carice van Houten. Ulrich begins to have hentai tentacle sex with Langiva as her head explodes into a fiery demoness with razors for her teeth and diamonds for her eyes...as Ulrich is having his hentai tentacle sex with Langiva....she devours his mens testicles as dwarves appear with pan flutes.
Ok...I may have embellished a little of that last paragraph....but, honestly....that might have made the film much more interesting. This film is a decent foray into the dark medieval times of the plague. It mixes elements of witchcraft and religion with plague paranoia to a satisfactory degree. Sean Bean is absolutely perfect as Ulrich and Carice van Houten is just as flawless in her wicked portrayal of the witch Langiva. It is an excruciatingly mediocre film by a director who can and has done better work. He just seems a bit out of his element here.
I honestly thought this film was going to be better. Usually, I absolutely love films set in this time period...but, this film doesn't really take the premise anywhere interesting. It never fully immerses itself in the atmosphere it has created and ultimately hinges itself in Bean's performance...which isn't necessarily a bad thing....I just wanted so much more. But, I can't really fault the film for things that I wanted. Sometimes I tend to be a little selfish with my horror films. I want them to be good to a certain unattainable measure and when it never meets my expectations I curl up on my plush carpeted flooring into a fetal position and sob until I pass out and wake up the next afternoon naked and cold. Perhaps I've shared a smidge too much?
Anyway....Black Death is a decent film. It's got something that most horror films don't really have these days....a desire to be something good and fresh. While it doesn't quite hit the mark it set out for itself, it is a well put together film with a better than average delivery in its inspired premise. It is a film that you have to pay attention to, though....and I wouldn't watch the film on a night when you are drugged up on flu medication as it does have the tendency to soothe you to dream land. While it's not a particularly long film....it does take an eternity to get going.
Black Death gets a solid 6.5 out of a possible 10.
Here is the trailer...courtesy of the Film Deviant YouTube Channel...
Thanks for reading,