The story is set in England at the time of the Black Death, and uses the plague to good horror effect, with corpses that get the viewer into the mood immediately.
Bean’s character and the hero – a young monk – have to make a journey across England to look for a sorcerer whose capture they believe would halt the disease. The plot is simple but effective (the sort that makes you ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?”) and the horror elements are emphasised throughout, but sewn into the story seamlessly without being forced.
I thought the special effects were particularly effective. That is, there aren’t (m)any, and the lack of flashy graphics give the film a realistic look, rather than the almost ‘cartoony’ feel of films where special effects play an important role.
There were some elements that didn’t quite work for me. As a historian I thought some of the sets more continental and perhaps more dated than I’d expect from medieval England – although in fairness that did add to he atmosphere. My main concern though was in the exposition at the end. Although dramatically done, I do know if I’d tried explaining the plot in a novel my critiquers would give me a good kicking!
But overall it’s a fun, well crafted film and deserves to be more widely known. 8/10