Pin It

Ring Up the Dead 

No need to 'bring out your dead' — not when the dead are already walking among you.

click to enlarge They make house calls. Not pleasant ones.
  • They make house calls. Not pleasant ones.

There's nothing like a good ol’ bubonic plague movie to make you happy that you weren’t born in England 700 years ago. Black Death, for example, is set in ravaged medieval cities and villages. Corpses are piled in the streets. People keep checking their armpits for fear that blood will start spewing out.

One such ravaged village is home to the still-healthy young monk Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) who’s having an illicit affair with the beautiful, also healthy Averill (Kimberley Nixon). He insists she must leave town till the pestilence is gone.

No sooner has she left for their special hiding place when, wouldn’t you know it, visitors arrive: the proud, dour and weary warrior Ulrich (Sean Bean) and his motley band of not-so-merry men. Like the Blues Brothers long after them, they’re on a mission from God.

They’re searching for a small village rumored to be plague-free, and they need a guide to find it. Wide-eyed and seemingly innocent Osmund offers his services.

This edgy and often startlingly violent road trip through the deep woods provides beautifully lit campfire scenes — perfect for telling tales of places where so many witches have been burned, the men are reduced to “shagging pigs.” Gradually, the truth emerges: Ulrich and company are in search of a necromancer.

What everyone is looking for, of course, is not what they’re going to get. A sword, ax, and mace battle is exciting and bloody, but it doesn’t exactly bring our heroes — if you choose to call them heroes — closer together. Dissension in the ranks is always as near as the next bend in the trail.

The village turns out to be filled with food and drink and lots of gorgeous, overly friendly women and, uh-oh, a dank, old unused church and ... hey, why are there so many dead birds around?

Black Death is an odd mix of medieval socio-political commentary, religion, Stephen King and a barrage of plot twisting. Along with a few brief but annoying slow-motion sequences, there are some very handsome production values and a terrifically unsettling performance by Carice van Houten (Black Book) as the village leader Langiva. Though the film has a lot going for it, it’s likely a bit too grim and grisly for wide audience appeal.


  • Pin It

Latest in Film


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
RiffTrax Live: Carnival of Souls

RiffTrax Live: Carnival of Souls @ Regal Cinemas

Thu., Oct. 27 and Mon., Oct. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks


More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Kids Aren't Alright

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children can't quite strike the balance between whimsy and darkness
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

indigo girls

spokane symphony

Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Road Goes On Forever
  • Road Goes On Forever

    Widespread Panic's never-ending tour stops in Spokane for the first time since 1999
    • Mar 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation