‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’
The Reckoning is a 2020 British horror feature film about a widowed, grieving young woman accused of being a witch who also has own personal demons.
Directed by Neil Marshall (Hellboy; The Descent; Dog Soldiers) from a screenplay co-written with Edward Evers-Swindell and Charlotte Kirk. The latter stars alongside Sean Pertwee, Joe Anderson, Steven Waddington, Mark Ryan, Ian Whyte, Emma Holzer and Emma Campbell-Jones.
England, 1665: Against the backdrop of the Great Plague and subsequent witch-hunts against women, Grace Haverstock must grapple with the tragic untimely death of her husband Joseph in a society completely consumed by fear and death. Because she rejects her landlord Squire Pendleton’s advances, she is falsely accused of being a witch and thrown in jail for a crime she didn’t commit.
Grace must endure physical persecution at the hands of England’s most ruthless witch-hunter Judge Moorcroft and face her own inner demons as the Devil himself starts to work his way into her mind…
“It’s clear The Reckoning is meant to be a star vehicle for Kirk — she’s made up and shot like a model even while in a squalid prison, and we’re meant to be rooting for her when she eventually gets to turn the tables on those who have imprisoned and tortured her. But the film is simply too hokey to take seriously — it almost feels like an ultra-gory Lifetime movie…” Bad Feeling Magazine
” …it’s nowhere near the misfire that Hellboy was. The film looks good and is shot well, particularly for audiences with an affinity for torture. Alas, the central conflict between witchfinder and accused witch proves too safe and repetitive to be truly memorable.” Bloody Disgusting
“If the horror elements were shaved off, the film could have been a solid period drama or even a fun adventure epic. And if the character of the devil was utilized more prominently instead of coming off as just a prop for shock value, then perhaps this could have been an enjoyable occultist horror flick. However, The Reckoning tries to be way too much at once and ends up falling flat.” CBR
“There are a lot of good ideas at play in this movie, and some overall great performances across the board, but with the muddled execution, lack of focus, and an uncomfortable male gaze throughout what should be a story of female suffering and eventual triumph leave a sour taste in my mouth.” CGM Backlot Magazine
“The film’s politics are progressive, since as a post #MeToo horror, The Reckoning takes some swings at the patriarchy, but the condemnation of female oppression is clumsily handled and ultimately unconvincing. The super text that provides statistics at the end feels like an attempt to give the film weight, but the juxtaposition with the final image undermines this. Indeed, undermining and contradiction are the overall feeling of The Reckoning, resulting in an intermittently enjoyable but uneven mishmash of narrative, generic and stylistic features.” Critical Movie Critics
” …The Reckoning feels like a formulaic Hollywood blockbuster-type film. And while every turn of the plot is a predictable one, it’s a contradiction because it’s a satisfying historical-horror-adventure film. Grace’s story is a captivating one, and while there are some very uncomfortable moments, there are also some enjoyable bits of drama and high-stakes action.” Daily Dead
“So many women died being accused of witchcraft. I think The Reckoning did a good job showing the strength of women, and how Grace fights, she is tired, beaten, and worn out. She still fights. The love story and her will being stronger than miserable Moorcroft’s. The scenes were beautiful, the love story of Grace and Joseph. I would recommend watching it.” HNN
” …pays homage to all those who lost their lives during the witch hunts that occurred from the 15th to 18th century without it coming across as insulting as some historical fiction films do. It’s also entertaining, often leaving you on the edge of your seat and cheering for Grace. And that ending, wow!” Horror Fuel
” …it feels a tad disjointed, with a passable yet overall underwhelming climax. It is a fairly effective film with solid performances and a thoughtfully constructed, historically relevant story that rings a bit too true at the present moment. But in the grander scheme of Marshall’s work, it may get left in isolation.” iHorror
“Grace is lovely throughout, but there is no connection to the character, and her journey from punished to punisher becomes tiresome […] The Reckoning is a timely tale that uses hot trends to serve a cool platter. Period, Folk Horror and Witchcraft are absolute sells, but the film doesn’t actually take us down any dark, unexplored alleys. It gives us the Coles Notes and calls it a day.” Nightmare on Film Street
“Disguising itself as a feminist fist-pump future cult classic, but unveiling its true form as just some trashy piece of genre filmmaking, Marshall’s depiction of a real human tragedy is almost insensitively bad. Making matters even more eye-rolling, the forgetful nature of The Reckoning is nearly a tragedy.” On the Clock
“The production design was probably what took me out from The Reckoning the most. It was poorly crafted and felt like it was a made-for-TV show from the early 90s. Some scenes felt out of place and unpolished, which was exactly the opposite of what you’d want in a period piece. The special effects were cheesy and over the top, I loathed the awful CGI blood.” Pop Horror
“It would have at least been some saving grace if the film had fallen into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, and perhaps it will for some viewers. But alas, The Reckoning suffers from being too boring, too lacklustre, and too poorly constructed from start to finish, to recommend.” Screen Anarchy
The Reckoning premiered as part of the 2020 virtual-to-Canada-only Fantasia festival.
On February 5, 2021, The Reckoning will be released in the US theatrically, On-Demand and Digital via RLJ Entertainment, followed by a streaming premiere on Shudder from May 13th.
Director Neil Marshall discussed the project At The Sun, where he explained actress Charlotte Kirk’s challenges working on set: “She’s literally being doused in water and tied up to torture devices and persecuted on a daily basis.” Marshall also mentioned the reality of the film, saying “It’s an amazing story based on true events… and survival with a very, very dark horror story around it.”
Cast and characters:
Charlotte Kirk … Grace Haverstock
Sean Pertwee … Moorcroft
Joe Anderson … Joseph
Ian Whyte … The Devil
Steven Waddington … Pendleton
Cal MacAninch … Ben Tuttle
Mark Ryan … Peck
Emma Holzer … Leonora
Rick Warden … Rev. Malcolm
Leon Ockenden … Morton
Emma Campbell-Jones … Jane Hawthorne
Jordan Long … Watkins
Bill Fellows … Sutter
Oliver Trevena … Crowley
Indianna Ryan … Astrid
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