I guess having a name like Black Death should have been enough of a warning. It was set in the plague of the 1300s, but it wasn’t as fun as Monty Python would have us believe. Lots of people were dying and rotting everywhere and there wasn’t a single “not dead yet” in the bunch. The main plot involved a bunch of stab-happy Christians hunting down some Pagan witch who was supposed to be bringing dead folks back to life. I thought these guys were into the whole resurrection scene, but apparently they just wanted to kill her. Everyone’s got to escape boredom somehow, and I guess, in the Dark Ages, that usually involved righteous throat-slitting.
At first, I found myself siding with the Pagan village because they seemed so nice and innocent, with a deliberately cautious attitude about the encroaching Christians. But as countless movies have shown, the happy, quiet towns are the ones you should be concerned about. The Christians blamed the Pagans for the plague, and vice versa. It was all about what gods you did or didn’t pray to, and both sides were equally into torture porn. I’m only surprised that Mel Gibson wasn’t a producer. He loves stabbings and flailings and ripping limbs off more than anyone I know.
So of course, I’m cheering on the Pagans until they start using the Christian’s torture methodology against them in an attempt to appease the earth and ward off the plague. Come on. I expected more out of you guys. The pagans I’ve come across have all seemed to been a fun loving bunch; more into veganism and hand-waving woo than into sledge-hammering some dude’s shins. That’s not going to help get rid of the plague, and neither will the blood of any witch with +10 resurrection power. Spoiler alert: It was the fucking rats. They spread the plague.
Hindsight is 20/20, and both sides be crazy. There was no good guy. The closest they came to a good guy was the young monk, and he eventually goes batshit crazy after whacking his (another spoiler alert) girlfriend he thought was dead and resurrected. He spends the rest of his days torturing and killing women. That’s how the movie ends. No happy ending; no “I made it through the plague and all I got was this lousy religion” t-shirt. It’s just a bunch of depressing events strung together. As soon as you think it’s hit rock bottom and couldn’t possibly get any worse, it does. And then the credits roll, right after you see some poor chick’s toe get ripped off with a pair of pliers. Delightful.
That being said, it’s a great movie. It’s just really depressing. It’s kind of like a History Channel documentary (not involving ghosts or UFOs) mixed with all the worst parts of the Saw movie series. Not all good stories are happy ones.