(Opens April 1 at the Gaslamp.)
Opening this Saturday as part of the Ken’s “Midnight Movies” is Black Death, a cobblestone tale of one of the world’s most caustic times: England, circa 1348. The retrospective prologue seems a bit forward-thinking for a period piece, but then very little of the production feels of the period. The filmmaking is undeniably modern: shaky, handheld camerawork, jump-cut editing, stuttering slow motion — a showy bag of tricks. An opening shot of a rat reminds us of history’s iconic (albeit mistaken) hypothesis as to the cause of the bubonic plague.
Beyond this, the connection to the 14th-century pandemic is rather derivative. The film is more concerned with making a bloody mess of things: shoddy pacing, a color palette of cold gruel, and a tirade of primitive banter about divine punishment. At their core, the brutal torture scenes are no more than a crudely veiled image of the Saw franchise.
Reviewed in this week’s movie capsules: Happythankyoumoreplease and A Somewhat Gentle Man. ■