The sole remaining warrior of a mystical order known as the Spook (Jeff Bridges) takes under his wing Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), a young man who has been prophecied to possess an incredible power.
But without the Spook by his side, Thomas is left to his own devices when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes and wreaks havoc on mankind.
Directed by Sergei Bodrov, “Seventh Son” is a fantasy film based on the novel “The Spook’s Apprentice” (aka “The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch”) by Joseph Delaney.
The story revolves around a young farm boy named Tom Ward who lives off the countryside of The County, which was inspired by the English county of Lancashire.
Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son, and because of this face, he is given the powers of seeing things others cannot, such as boggarts, ghosts and other elemental creatures.
For centuries, humanity has been protected from creatures of the dark by an ancient order of noble warriors called Falcon Knights.
But now the only remaining warrior is Master John Gregory (Bridges), a grizzled demon-slayer with a tongue as sharp as his sword.
After being betrayed by the man she loved most, the Witch Queen Mother Malkin is left to rot in prison as her hunger for vengeance grows. The rising Blood Moon strengthens her mystical powers of transformation until she can finally break free.
Swearing revenge, Mother Malkin assembles an army of witches, warlocks and supernatural assassins from every nation, all uniting to punish the cruel world that rejected them.
Drawing from folklore
Delaney, whose book series “The Last Apprentice” has become a worldwide phenomenon, explains how the adventures of Master Gregory and Tom Ward all began.
“I used to teach in Blackpool, and nearest my place of work, my wife and I found a village called Stalmine, where we bought a house,” he said. “About a week after we moved in, I found out the church at the top of the road once had a boggart called the Stalmine Hall Knocker, a poltergeist. It used to plague the church—it pushed over tombstones, rattled the church doors, scared the parishioners—and so they brought in the priest. The priest eventually said the right prose and bound the boggart.”
It turns out this was one of many ghosts Delaney would encounter in his storied hamlet.
“Just north of where I live is the Hackensaw Halls, a very old house with a horse boggart, which is heard to click-clop up and down the lane,” he said. “Then there’s Lancaster Castle, which is where the real Pendle witches were hanged. Lancashire is riddled with boggarts, so I drew upon these folk tales. You can send for the priest, but the priest is probably scared and won’t do much good anyway, so I invented the Spook. He is the expert; he’s the exorcist, the dealer with the dark.”
For producer Basil Iwanyk, what intrigued them was how to tell the film version of a story about ancient magical forces challenged by the knowledge of Master Gregory and the Falcon Knights who served before him.
“The reason that ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ is so fantastic is that it demythologizes magic,” Iwanyk said. “It makes fighting these magical creatures more of a craft or a science than something fantastical. Knights do not use magic; they use science. Master Gregory has a big library of books, filled with knowledge from the past, and each knight writes his own books to pass on to the next generation of knights. They use natural weapons. That idea dovetailed into the movie because we realized that we wanted it to feel as real as possible.”
It was a shift of paradigm on how people perceived witches that Iwanyk wanted to explore in the film.
“Seventh Son” opens Jan. 8 in theaters nationwide.