Review: The Reckoning (2021)

  • Director: Neil Marshall
  • Writer: Edward Evers-Swindell, Charlotte Kirk, Neil Marshall
  • Stars: Joe Anderson, Sean Pertwee, Charlotte Kirk, Steven Waddington

Review

It’s 1655. A time of the plague, the time of hard line religion and the time of witch hunting. Neil Marshall explores this very dark time in history, not as an accurate snapshot of the times but as a backdrop to frame a story about misogyny in general life, its deep roots in religion and the sacrifices that women make to combat this.

Grace (Kirk) has to deal with her husband’s death and as per the usual during this time, no husband, mo’ problems. She has to pay the rent and look after her infant daughter but can’t work. When it comes time to pay the rent of course the landlord Pendleton (Waddington) suggests she can pay a different way and she rejects him. Pendleton, a 1665 fuck boy then accuses Grace of being a witch. The Witch Finder Moorcroft (Pertwee) is called in to get a confession and Grace’s torture… I mean trial begins.

Marshall knows his way around the medieval setting and everything here looks great. The dream sequences are visually interesting and Marshall (predictably so) directs the hell out of the action set pieces. The torture that Grace endures is indeed horrific however we only really ever see the aftermath of this (they really could’ve gone all Martyrs on us here), however the torture seems to affect her only sometimes and considering the punishment she goes through its a bit hard to just think she (or any human being) could just ‘walk it off’ so to speak.

The acting by Kirk and Pertwee are the standouts, Kirk’s ever defiant Grace and Pertwee’s self-pious Moorcroft are good sparring partners when on screen together, although both tend to tip into melodramatic territory at times. Which brings me to the writing… it’s not great. The plot takes too long to get to where anyone watching would be expecting it to and then there is maybe one surprising development in the 3rd act, so it is quite formulaic in nature. A few times after Grace’s torture she dreams about the Devil having his way with her and whilst this provides some amazing visuals, that thread goes nowhere beyond Grace losing her mind trying to cope with her situation.

The Reckoning is blunt in its messaging and is an ode to the power of women, it’s an important message but it is a shame that the film accompanying it wasn’t better.

THE RECKONING is in Cinemas, On Demand and Digital February 5, 2021. 

Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78

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