Black Death at Madcap Theaters in Tempe

In Black Death, a monk travels to a remote village with a band of murderous Christians during the bubonic plague to investigate rumors of a necromancer who protects the village from disease and brings the dead back to life.

That's a pretty cool plot, and there's plenty for horror fans to like in the film, which is showing this weekend at Madcap Theaters in Tempe. The cinematography is very dark, dirty, and smoky (just like the Middle Ages), and Black Death has plenty of gory battles scenes and bubbling, oozing red sores. There are a few cheesy missteps (like the entire last five minutes), but overall, Black Death saves itself from the B list with a solid script, a provocative cast of characters, and a heartbreaking twist reminiscent of classical Greek tragedies.

Check out the trailer and read a full review after the jump...

The main character in Black Death is Osmund (played by Eddie Redmayne), a priest tasked with leading a band of "Holy Warriors" across a great marsh and to a remote village said to be untouched by the plague ravaging the rest of medieval England. The crew includes the quintessential bald guy with a scar, and a long-haired fellow who just grunts. Their leader is Ulrich (Sean Bean), and together, they plan to find and capture "the heretic" in the village. They will also kill and torture plenty of people along the way.

But Osmund has his own motive for going to the village, said to be located beyond "Dunwich Forest" (a nice nod to legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft's work), and it involves a girl. Some sinister shit happens in that subplot. We'll leave it at that.

Director Christopher Smith brings writer Dario Poloni's story to life against an eerie backdrop of shadowy forests, misty mountain trails, and pestilent cobblestone streets. Some of the dialogue is great; our favorite line came the campfire chat scene, when one of the Christian warriors says, "Pestilence wasn't trial enough. Now God has us shagging pigs."

A big flaw in the film, however, is the ending. Black Death should really end five minutes before it does. There's a point where the audience knows the answers to all their questions, and feels a sense of resolution. But then suddenly, there's this tack-on ending where the narrator starts hypothesizing on what may have happened years later. It seemed awkward and pointless, like trying to tell someone maybe their cat ran away when you know they just saw it get hit by a car.

Black Death is showing at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, April 9 at Madcap Theaters, 730 S. Mill Avenue in Tempe. Tickets cost $8. Call 480-634-5192 or visit www.madcaptheaters.com for more information.

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