Perhaps that's because it's the 1300s, and plague and pestilence (the most oft-used word in Bragi F. Schut's screenplay) have left those still alive in sour, dyspeptic moods. Fear and dread pervade the land. Even the lusty wenches look depressed.
And then, after a trudge of battlefield montages, Cage's Behman and his fellow knight, Felson (the hulking, one-note Ron Perlman), decide to call it quits. The stink of death has finally gotten them down.
But before the two deserters get a chance to say "Let's blow this popsicle stand" (not an exact quote, but representative of the script's general anachronistic trend), they're talked into escorting a woman accused of witchcraft to a monastery, where she will be put on trial for her life.
"If she is not what you say, she will not be yours to burn," cautions Cage, a grave wince moving across his face like a cloud across the moon.
Is this girl (Claire Foy) guilty of consorting with the Devil, or just another scapegoat for the zealous monks as they cast about for someone to blame for the Black Plague? Only a long trek through forests crawling with wolves, over vertiginous rope bridges, and around muddy medieval villages full of, yes, pestilence will tell.
Note to Donovan fans: "Season of the Witch" is not included on the soundtrack.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/