Archive for Christopher Smith

From the archives…”Black Death”

Posted in From the archives... with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by Doctor Gash
Black Death (Released June 11, 2010) 7 of 10 on the Gash-O-Meter
Director: Christopher Smith
Starring: Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Carice VanHouten, Kimberly Nixon, Tim McInnerny
Running Time: 97minutes Rated: Rated R
Country: United Kingdom/Germany
Gross: $242,764
If nothing else, Black Death succeeds in getting audiences interested with its cool minimalist title and movie poster. And director Chris Smith delivers a gritty film with enough story to keep the average viewer interested, and enough of the red, red kroovy to appease the gorehounds.
  The film is set in 1348 during the height of the bubonic plague and follows the path of Ulric (Sean Bean) and his band of Christian soldiers out to investigate a village mysteriously untouched by the disease. In addition to their strange immunity, rumors of a necromancer (a creature that can reanimate the dead) among them drives the soldiers to investigate. A lovesick monk joins their ranks as a guide, adding a level of emotion to this story of savagery.
  The first half of the film is the journey to the remote village, and although there are some thrills and incredible scenery along the way, the movie doesn’t really pick up until nearly halfway through when the band of warriors finally make their way to the dwelling. From here, things get much better, unfortunately, the film is half over.
  The mood inside the village gives a real Wicker Man vibe. You know something is off-kilter about the place, but you’re just not sure what it is. You’ll spend the first five minutes expecting Christopher Lee to come sauntering out of one of the huts. You instead get a guy who looks like a medieval version of Dobber Dobinski from the tv show “Coach” . His name is Hob (Tim McInnery) and he’s creepy as anything. But not wayward drifter or ugly witch creepy, he’s Stepford Wives creepy. And he’s just the first member of the village we get introduced to. Things get even more lively when we meet Langiva (Carice Van Houten) and things really begin to get interesting.It’s hard to classify Black Death as solely a horror film as there are so many other aspects to it. It’s definitely a medieval adventure picture and (in it’s own way) a love story. The grainy quality of the film gives it a very realistic feel and the special effects are impressive. It’s almost like a live-action Beowulf. There are some bloody fight scenes but one problem I have with the film is it feels like a big movie squeezed into a little one. It feels like a 300 type film, but there are only about five characters in it and they spend a lot of time walking through the woods.
  Black Death takes awhile to get rolling, but once you get there, it’s a decent ride. Horror fans will get their kicks with some decent effects, although they could have done less cutting-away with the camera during pay off shots. The fact that something supernatural is going on here does help to qualify this as a horror film, but it’s not going to scare you at all. The film tells a good story, gives you some F/X thrills and has a bit of a surprise ending. You could do a lot worse with your movie-going dollar.