Oscar-winners Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore deliver two of the hammiest performances of their distinguished careers in Sergei Bodrov's overcooked sword-and-sorcery fantasy. As the sorceress Mother Malkin, Moore dresses in Siouxsie and the Banshees fashion and does a lot of hissing.
Playing the knight and witchfinder John Gregory (the Spook), Bridges wears a Catweazle beard and reprises his ornery old-timer routine from True Grit, delivering his dialogue in a near-inaudible bar-stool growl. Ben Barnes is his reluctant assistant, the seventh son of a seventh son, therefore apparently possessed of special necromancy skills. The Swedish actress Alicia Vikander is the witch's daughter he falls in love with.
There are some nifty special effects – witches turning into dragons, explosions, scenes of demonic possession – alongside the clunking dialogue. We are a long way from Russian director Bodrov's Tolstoy adaptation Prisoner of the Mountains (1996) but the film is enjoyable enough if taken as a cheesy, old-fashioned B-movie with a taste of Ray Harryhausen about it.