Saturday, 21 August 2010
Romero goes existential: SEASON OF THE WITCH
Too complex to grasp on one viewing and hardly engaging enough to warrant a second one,
SEASON OF THE WITCH is more for the art-house crowd then for fans of 'dead' series.
Plot in one sentence: Mid-life crisis inspires a bored suburban housewife to take up witchcraft - with mildly disastrous consequences.
Some visually inventive interludes (car wash scene, for one) aside, SEASON OF THE WITCH is a purely dialogue-driven film.
While Romero films the majority of scenes in an artless, nearly pedestrian manner, his obvious screen-writing talent gets a good few opportunities to shine here . Unknown actors give terrific, believable performances - a thing often lacking from the visually more refined European genre films of the period (due to actors often having to speak their lines phonetically in a language they do not understand).
Romero, whose action-filled zombie films are admired by the young generation, has with SEASON OF THE WITCH made a film about adults, one which foregrounded the more mundane aspects of existence. It's an experience that's bound to appear dry and humdrum to those who haven't yet felt the fear of ageing and frustration which permeates everyday people's lives.
Apparently, when planning his feature début, Romero wanted making a pure art-house film, but ultimately reconsidered in favour of something more commercially appealing, resulting in the immortal NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Well, with SEASON OF THE WITCH he may have finally made his art-house film - a psychological picture without any gore and little in the way of crowd-pleasing entertainment.
Much as I like SEASON OF THE WITCH, it has to be admitted that, at just ninety minutes, the film feels a lot longer - and not in an enjoyable way.
Sitting through SEASON OF THE WITCH is about as exciting as spending an evening with a bunch of provincial housewives. Yet, from time to time, in the right mood, watching this early Romero may be a pleasant enough experience.