Black Death (15)

Film

Horror films

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Jun 8 2010

Set in the plague year of 1348, Christopher Smith’s best film to date is a tale of fundamentalist Christianity, fearful superstition and atavistic paganism. Based on a fluid, intelligent screenplay by Dario Poloni, it marks Smith out as Britain’s most talented, least appreciated genre filmmaker. Striking visuals, confident storytelling, authentically grubby settings and an unsettling moral relativism combine to make his fourth feature emotionally involving, action-packed and thought-provoking.

After persuading his secret lover, Averill (Kimberley Nixon), to flee their plague-ravaged town, doubting novice monk Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) joins the bishop’s devout military envoy, Ulric (Sean Bean), and his ragtag band of mercenaries on an expedition to a remote village. This village has mysteriously been spared the pestilence and is rumoured to be a hotbed of pagan beliefs and necromancy. Dragging behind them a huge wooden torture device, Ulric and his men are guided by Osmund through the woods and marshes, encountering bandits and witch-burning locals en route. The village, however, appears to be a benign gynocracy presided over by healer Langiva (Carice van Houten) and her avuncular acolyte, Hob (Tim McInnerny).

Beneath this placid surface, however, is a roiling pit of religious duplicity and moral decay.
Horror fans will note a structural similarity to ‘The Wicker Man’, but the real creative touchstone here is Herzog’s ‘Aguirre, Wrath of God’. The ruthless Ulric represents the official church, yet his zealotry prompts the Abbot (David Warner) to remark: ‘That man is more dangerous than the pestilence itself.’ For all her showy paganism, is Langiva a heretical necromancer or merely a charlatan witch? Her bizarre bird’s-nest hairdo (and van Houten’s wavering accent) does not inspire confidence, yet the lovestruck Osmund is tempted to abandon his faith. This is bracing, often brutal stuff, set in a world where, as Ulric says, ‘God has slipped over the horizon.’
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri May 28, 2010

Duration:

102 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Christopher Smith

Screenwriter:

Dario Poloni

Cast:

Carice van Houten, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|16
1 person listening
Carinthia

The kind of B-movie that England does best -- authentic, gritty, great performances. This little gem of a title is getting a release in the US through cool genre label Magnolia. Sean Bean is on fine form and there's a supporting cast of interesting, craggy faces. Well worth the price of a DVD.

neal

Sean Bean is great; film is a mess; well-directed!!! Script terrible.

Robert Thornton

Why do people keep paying homage to "The Wicker Man", it was absolute "B" picture rubbish. This was good entertainment for the genre, very nasty. I did think of Baldrick at times and a rather heavier Tim McInnery added to this.

garrick huscared

The film can not be faulted for its authenticity and atmosphere. I lost it with the bleach blonde hair and dubious delievery of Carice van outen (I guess she was the money )and the story got itself lost towards the end. The post script did not work for me as I really didnt care enough about the monk.Having said that. It was worth watching. David Warner was awesome with only a few lines.

Flaxman

This was great, really moody as other have said and with some great performances which make you feel like you're back in those times a la Name of the Rose. Not really a date film! Wicked cool though.

Joe

Loved it. Wicked, dark, moody and scary. Great acting and sets.

Joe

Loved it. Wicked, dark, moody and scary. Great acting and sets.

_Matt_1977_

This is a really good film, full of moral ambiguity, despondency and humanity. It's not an action movie or a horror movie - more a tale of personal tragedies, exploitation, oppression, grit, defiance and determination. It's dark, evocative and highly recommended.

Perfecto

I think anyone expecting a full-on genre horror film will be disappointed, but this is something that tries to capture what life would have been like then and the kind of meanings and superstition people abscribed to the plague. I wasn't bored, but it isn't bombastic or an action flick - that's misleading. It's something more thoughtful, with good performances and ultimately packs a punch.

Perfecto

I think anyone expecting a full-on genre horror film will be disappointed, but this is something that tries to capture what life would have been like then and the kind of meanings and superstition people abscribed to the plague. I wasn't bored, but it isn't bombastic or an action flick - that's misleading. It's something more thoughtful, with good performances and ultimately packs a punch.

kroll

Really good movie, kind of grim and exciting with some chills. It's not really a horror, unless you could someone being pulled into four by horses. I didn't know the young actor who's the lead but Sean Bean is awesome. It's a bit like Name of the Rose in its settings. Good stuff.

kroll

Really good movie, kind of grim and exciting with some chills. It's not really a horror, unless you could someone being pulled into four by horses. I didn't know the young actor who's the lead but Sean Bean is awesome. It's a bit like Name of the Rose in its settings. Good stuff.

Alan Smithy

This film is the best medieval pagan romp since the wicker man, with a good dose of witchfinder general violence thrown in too. It might not have Vincent Price or Christopher Lee, but bun a zoot and you'll feel like you were back in the 70s, if only you could still smoke in the coronet!

Alan Smithy

This film is the best medieval pagan romp since the wicker man, with a good dose of witchfinder general violence thrown in too. It might not have Vincent Price or Christopher Lee, but bun a zoot and you'll feel like you were back in the 70s, if only you could still smoke in the coronet!

Mabel

I was lucky enough to see this film at an advance screening and thought that it was a great independent Brit film, it was dark and crazy and a little funny, like The Wicker Man. Sean Bean was really great, and Carice van Houten was good as well. It's certainly worth checking out, and is maybe more a guy's film. I liked it.

Mabel

I was lucky enough to see this film at an advance screening and thought that it was a great independent Brit film, it was dark and crazy and a little funny, like The Wicker Man. Sean Bean was really great, and Carice van Houten was good as well. It's certainly worth checking out, and is maybe more a guy's film. I liked it.