A RECKONING (2009) Reviews and overview

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A Reckoning is a 2009 British film written and directed by A.D. Barker. It stars Leslie Simpson and Axelle Carolyn (director of Soulmate).

The film follows a lone man as he struggles to make sense of his life in an empty village. Whether he is the last man on Earth, the survivor of some catastrophic apocalypse, or just insane is unknown. To cling on to a sense of normality, he creates straw people who he interacts with, teaching a ‘class’ at the school. But as his delusions grow stronger, it seems that he might not be alone after all.

A Reckoning was shot under the title Straw Man during January and February of 2009, in the middle of the worst winter for 30 years, and with much of the shooting taking place outdoors. Simpson starved himself to achieve the emaciated look on his character.

Unfortunately, a post-production dispute between Barker and financier Garry Charles means that at present the film remains in legal limbo and cannot be shown.

A Reckoning has been somewhat of a passion project. Its journey to the screen has been blessed and cursed in equal measure – but like most first films, I feel it brims with blind ambition, naive will, and an absolute hunger to tell the tale.

The tale itself explores a human being stripped bare, exposed in an unforgiving world and left with his most base primal will. What would we do if all we had was taken from us, our comforts, our treasures, our loves, our entire world – what would we become?

Myself, Leslie Simpson, Adam Krajczynski, and our wonderful crew have attempted to make something truly different, something that could speak to the yearning part of our hearts – which we all possess, but often remains hidden.

My hope is that in some small way A Reckoning addresses a little of the many wondrous, beautiful and in turn, dark things that make us what we are. This film is a lament for the human race; a midnight chime that tolls for our species.

A.D. Barker – Writer/Director” (statement from the official website)


A Reckoning asks many questions and whilst some are answered, many are left open. It’s a very literary film with multiple references to books and characters that, if one is familiar with those works, add an extra dimension to the narrative and provide further indication of the character’s mental state.

Whilst in many other films, this kind of ‘intellectual product placement’ can be overemphasised and clumsy, here it works perfectly and gives a genuine depth to the film.

David Flint, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

“Barker’s direction on this film is very subtle – at times it seems as though he just calls “Action” and lets Simpson go for it. But that very kind of direction combined with the stunning cinematography, subtle but effective score and Simpson’s quiet voice-overs all make this a film fans need to demand to see. And discuss and debate.” Dread Central

A Reckoning is a small film, but thoroughly grand. It’s horror and melodrama and poetry for the same reason: it’s a meditation on the human condition.” Brutal as Hell

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