Black Death is one of those movies that managed to slip under the theatrical radar, despite being a fairly good flick. Essentially, it takes place during the dark ages, when the Black Plague was rampant throughout Europe, and follows the story of a group of mercenary-types who are brought in to search for a missionary party that disappeared while trying to reach a remote village. Sean Bean plays Ulric, the group’s leader, with the same kind of rogue bravado he brought to Boromir in the LOTR trilogy. As his band of medieval tough guys reaches the village, he knows that something isn’t quite right. Slowly, his suspicions are realized in a kind of Village of the Damned sort of tale (minus the creepy blonde-haired kids).
While the film does deliver some of the violent swordplay promised in the trailers, it also sets a sort of slow-brewing creepy tone as well. With hints that witchcraft is common among these rural folk, viewers quickly come to suspect Ulric may have been correct in his fear that something’s amiss. The film is laced with themes of good vs evil and the nature of God in a world where the Plague strikes down young and old, guilty and innocent alike. Much of this interplay is central to the character of Osmund, the young monk who has been enlisted as a guide for this ill-fated expedition. In some ways, Osmund’s story is the most interesting by the time the movie is over. It’s not going to enter the pantheon of classics, but Black Death a solid rental movie.