When the Bubonic Plague swept Europe in the late 1340’s, it resulted in the deaths of around 100 million people – anywhere between 30 and 60% of the entire population. Amongst other things, this terrifying and misunderstood phenomenon produced a complete upheaval of the existing social order, bringing about the end of feudal relationships, the slow rise of the middle class and a wage-based economy, and the decline in power of the Catholic Church. It’s a fascinating period of ignorance and superstition and collapsing social order.

However, aside from the odd startling moment, the Black Death the Movie, starring Eddie Redmayne and Sean Bean, doesn’t really capture any of this particularly consistently or well. Instead, it’s a simple action-adventure flick where a band of blood-hungry Christian Soldiers of questionable morality hunt down the leaders of a remote English town that’s remained plague-free due to a happy coincidence of isolation, good hygiene and the world’s first health service. Importantly, the village is also God-free, and the villagers are pretty hell-bent (natch) on retaining their independence in the face of the soldiers’ dissembling and all-out aggression. Cue lots of graphic physical violence.

Black Death filmed in Saxony, in Germany – notably at Blankenburg Castle (the monastery) and in the marshes and waterways around Zehdenick (the village) – and the two contrasting worlds are carefully painted with a desaturated lens. The town is suitably grubby and revolting, the village itself looks like one of those reality tv sets where people go back and try and live authentically like our forefathers (with differing degrees of enthusiasm and success). All in all though, I found the film tedious and disappointing. I’m no great fan of robust and muscular Christianity, and I come from a childhood entirely saturated with rural isolationism, so my sympathies were always going to lean towards the Villagers. But they make such bad villains; it’s like the entire cast of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village wandered onto the set of mercenary drama Wild Geese. Dutch superstar Carice van Houten in particular looks like she was dropped into the production direct from a star turn as Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, without so much as a change of clothes – and her accent is distracting to boot. And the Christians are all resolutely unlikeable, prepared to lie, cheat, brutally torture and infect their merry way into the lives of others. So, there’s no-one to identify with really, no real resolution, and therefore it’s all a bit pointless.