Life & Culture

Film review: The Reckoning

Nice idea, shame about the squeaky-clean execution, says Linda Marric


This small scale horror offering from British director Neil Marshall ( Dog Soldiers, The Descent) has ambitions beyond its clearly diminished budget and, sadly for all involved, it really shows. Set in 17th century England, it follows the story of Grace Haverstock (co-writer Charlotte Kirk), a woman accused of being in league with the devil after losing her husband (Joe Anderson) in the Great Plague.

Sean Pertwee stars as the fearful Judge Moorcroft, the man who burnt Grace’s mother at the stake some years earlier and who is called upon by local lawmaker Squire Pendleton (Steven Waddington) to help extract a confession from the young widow accused of witchcraft.

The film is clearly inspired by similarly themed productions — Witchfinder General springs to mind — but it’s clear from the offset that there is very little here that we haven’t seen done better, with more conviction before.

Quite aside from its one-note and bafflingly lacklustre performances — Pertwee being the exception here — perhaps the most jarring aspect of The Reckoning is how clean and shiny it all looks. As a result, at no point during the film did I ever feel like I was watching something set during the Great Plague, but rather a sanitised version of it.

What’s more, for a film purporting to tell a story about the female persecution during a dark chapter of our collective history, there is an awful lot of completely unnecessary depiction of violence and torture which often feels exploitative and needlessly graphic. Disappointing, to say the least.



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