A Dismal “Last Witch Hunter”
By Skip Sheffield
What was Vin Diesel thinking?
Diesel is star and title character of “The Last Witch Hunter;” a misbegotten horror film by Beck Eisner (“Sahara,” “The Crazies”). Diesel is Kaulder, a character who has been wandering the earth for 800 years in search of witches to kill. His biggest kill of all was the Queen Witch (Julie Engelbrecht). Before she died, the Witch cursed Kaulder with immortality, separating him from his wife and daughter. How bad was the Queen Witch? She created the Black Plague, which killed as many as 200 million people 1346-1353. The story, by Cory Goodman (“Priest”) and two others, isn’t quite clear on how it happened, but the Witch Queen is somehow resurrected and has threatened to start the Black plague all over again. So it’s up to Kaulder to save the world again, with some help from his priest friend Dolan 36th (Michael Caine), who is knocked out of commission early on by some kind of spell. Replacing him is Dolan 37 (Elijah Wood), who may not be too reliable. At Kaulder’s side is a pretty, plucky young woman named Chloe (Scottish actress Rose Leslie), who is a “Dream-Walker,” whatever that means.
The budget of “The Witch Hunter” is reported to be $90 million. Most of that must have been spent on yucky computer-generated special effects. There are “Boo!” jolts at regular intervals, but Vin Diesel never changes expressions and always speaks in a low guttural monotone. This movie isn’t quite two hours long, but it feels like an eternity. Rarely have I felt such relief at leaving a theater.