I recently had the pleasure of viewing “ Black Death” directed by Christopher Smith from Magnet of Magnolia Pictures. I do mean pleasure because this film was original and I always enjoy when characters stay true to their natures. The film in itself stayed true and delivered an entertaining and pensive moment.
I feel that religion isn’t something that is of a high priority these days. People are more in tune with technology and what’s the latest thing going on in some semi-celebrity-reality-star’s life rather than whether or not they are going to heaven or hell. This film reminds us of how far we have come from the crusades and dark ages when the black plague was rampant.
Just as the title implies, the black plague or black death plays a role and a heavy backdrop to this surprisingly original film. It’s 1348 and a group of god abiding demon “bounty hunters” sent by the church take on, what they believe will be, a journey into hell to find a necromancer and do “god’s work”. They describe the necromancer as one who takes the dead from the cold, wet earth and breaths new life into them (creates zombies). A young monk volunteers to lead the bounty hunters to the village they are seeking the necromancer in. (Side note: Did you know that “Ring Around the Rosey” was a song about the black plague? Next time you see some kids singing it feel free to get creeped out - you’re welcome. ) Back to the film...
There is more than one plague in this film. There is the pestilence causing sickness and disease and then there is the plague of religion which is just as infectious and deadly. Another reoccuring theme is that of the zombie. There are women brought back from the dead, people reduced to nothing but walking dead while seeking vengeance and stories of cannibalism. While this isn’t a zombie movie by any generic definition of the genre I would include it in the category non the less.
If blood and heavy gore with people eating people is what you seek for a zombie movie...this isn’t the film for you. But if you would like a good story with more subtle definitions of a zombie. Every person in this movie is already a potential member of the dead walking. There is even the element, which all zombie movies have, a place that is free of infection and safe from harm - but for how long? There are some good fight scenes and good torture/death scenes this may just be a great film for you to watch. Plus a generous amount of blood and gore without being over the top. I completely believed every character and the world in which they lived.
Overall, “Black Death” is a well written movie incorporating a bit of real history of how zombies were made, criticism of religion in all forms, the witch hunts of old, vengeance and the overall question of the solidity of a person’s faith.
Ulrich (Sean Bean- Lord of the Rings, Silent Hill) and Osmund (Eddie Redmayne - The Good Shepherd, The Other Boleyn Girl) gives great performances and I have to commend the director of photography, Sebastian Edschmind for his color palette and great job for creating the overall feel of this film.