6. BLACK DEATH
Director: Christopher Smith
Stars: Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Carice van Houten
And the award for 2011’s least inviting movie title thus far goes to…Black Death! Granted, British filmmaker Christopher Smith’s utterly dark period drama/religious horror pic takes place in Europe circa 1348, when the plague known to historians as, yes, Black Death dramatically decreased the population on a daily basis. Plot description aside, though, Black Death isn’t a title that will entice those who are opposed to unpleasant cinema. They’re better off, frankly, because Smith’s provocative work here is about as congenial as spiked armor.
Sean Bean, basically playing the same character he recently did on HBO’s Game Of Thrones, leads a group of hardcore knights, along with a young monk, into a village said to be inhabited by folks immune to the Black Death. The religious authorities suspect that some kind of supernatural heresy is afoot, and want Bean’s team to snoop around and get answers.
And that’s where we’ll cease to explain anymore about Black Death; winking at films such as the original The Wicker Man, Smith’s film heads takes several unexpected turns near its end, upending its themes and challenging religion in ways that most genre flicks rarely do. Once it’s over, you’ll need time to think, not to mention recover from the mental beat-down its vicious climax dishes out. Again, it’s called Black Death, not Pink Bunnies.