Nicolas Cage in: Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch

Released in 2011 ▪ Review posted October 5, 2013

“Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.”

Khalil Gibran

We sat down to see what was on Netflix starring Nicolas Cage. I use the term “we” because I live with my boyfriend. I won’t go on about him as he repeatedly insists he “doesn’t want to be dragged into this.”

I ruled out the movies on the list that I’d seen and enjoyed—Raising Arizona, Face/Off, and Adaptation—these needed to be saved for later in case of exhaustion or emergency. Nic was making too stupid a face on the cover for Trespass, so no. Most of them didn’t seem like good inaugural films. Though the morbidity of starting the Cage Match off with World Trade Center might have been fun, I, frankly, don’t ever really want to watch that movie.

So only one film was left and Season of the Witch was it.

In the abstract, if I were to tell you there’s a movie where Ron Perlman head-butts Satan twice in a row, you’d probably want to see that movie, right? Even if it weren’t Hellboy? Because that happens here. That and so much more. I’d never seen Nic Cage in a period piece and now I feel I know why. His line delivery was so broken and staccato, like your dad yelling at you from a speedboat, every chop of water breaking into his tirade.

It doesn’t work for a period piece. Especially when paired with Ron Perlman, who’s swimming up-current with ankle weights the entire film. I had trouble focusing on the plot because I was hoping the camera would pan out, revealing that Cage is actually acting in a play for his daughter, who gets kidnapped later as the plot of a whole new and hopefully better movie unfolds. This clip from the movie demonstrates all of this, as well as the awful lighting.

I think Nic might have been going through some stuff while shooting this movie. Personal stuff. Check out his Droopy the Dog routine as he tries to cough up some praise for the director. That’s a stark contrast to how effusively he talks about Jerry Bruckheimer. If you watch the whole thing you’ll be treated with Mr. Cage invoking Miles Davis to describe his collaborations with the young actors of today. I’ll write that sentence again, it’ll give you some time to really think it over. If you watch the whole thing you’ll be treated with Mr. Cage invoking Miles Davis to describe his collaborations with the young actors of today.

But we’ve strayed from the point. Season of the Witch is, let’s be honest, a terrible movie. But is it terrible because of Nicolas Cage? In this case, yes. Some of the blame can go to the writer, but a lot of the blame has to go to the casting director. I think Nic is all wrong here. The idea is conceptually great, but terrible in execution. Like the Communism of casting decisions, it only works on paper.

A great actor can make the most horrible movie compelling—see The Devil Wears Prada for an example of this. Nic does not appear to be up to the challenge of saving Season of the Witch, and I’m not sure he even tried. Roger Ebert, who also hated this movie, commented: “Here, like cows, [Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman] devour the scenery, regurgitate it to a second stomach found only in actors and chew it as cud.” That’s pretty mean…and quite accurate.

How was the movie?
How was Nic Cage’s acting?
Did his performance make the movie worse?
Sadly, yes