Black Death (15)
Friday 11 June 2010
The horror director Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance) gets medieval on our ass with this flawed but intriguing morality tale.
Set in 1348 as the Black Plague cuts a devastating swathe across England, it concerns a novice monk, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne), who volunteers to help a knight (Sean Bean) in his mission to investigate mysterious goings-on in a remote village beyond the marshes.
Only after they have set out does Osmund realise that Bean's band of men are witch-hunters, and their destination a home to "demons and necromancers". The film is strong on menace, and its portrayal of the wild countryside with Breughel-like peasants and black-hooded flagellators is persuasively creepy. Also Smith packs in plenty of Middle Ages hacking and hewing, though his striving after contemporary resonance (swine flu, torture in Iraq) is less surely handled. The denouement doesn't deliver the required horror – it's no Wicker Man – and it stumbles through an unsatisfactory coda. All the same, there are sterling performances, notably from the flaxen-haired Carice van Houten as an enigmatic sorceress.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Jeremy Clarkson to host BBC's Have I Got News For You despite Top Gear exit
Kay Burley 'bias' against Ed Miliband prompts 130 complaints to Ofcom
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'