Review: Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning (2021)

Power. Power comes in many forms. The most common is wealth. Wealth begets power. Absolute wealth begets absolute power and power corrupts absolutely. This is the starting point of Neil Marshall’s fantastic film The Reckoning.

Joseph Haverstock (The Crazies’s Joe Anderson) and his wife Grace (Charlotte Kirk) live a simple life in the country. He is a hard worker and she is working hard at creating a home for their soon to be born first child. Life is simple and good as can be considering there is a plague ravaging Europe. They are untouched by the world around them until Joseph goes into town and contracts the virus. He hangs himself soon after to protect his wife and child. Grace is all alone.

Soon after child birth, the richest man in the county, Pendleton (Steve Waddington – Last Of The Mohicans, Sleepy Hollow) shows up and demands payment in one form or another. When he attempts to force himself on her, she fights back and pulls a pistol on him. Angered, he leaves and accuses her of witchcraft in the local pub. Of course, in the time in which this takes place, it takes about one sip of ale for the rest of the locals to arrive at the same conclusion.

What follows is a woman’s decent into torture and the hands of the patriarchy that surrounds her. While Pendleton is the local big wig, he calls in the Witchfinder General Judge Moorcroft (sean Pertwee – Dog Soldiers) to try and convict her.

What follows is an abuse of power and Grace’e rise to meet it head on. Is she speaking with the devil? Is she seeing visions or is she losing her sanity? These are questions that you may ask but the answers are up to interpretation. What we do know is that revenge is coming and it will bear Grace’s name.

The Reckoning is a solid film with beautiful sets and photography. Though it is a modern film, there is much in common with classic Euro horror save for a more upbeat ending of sorts. Marshall, who is one of the most talented directors working today, creates a film that never betrays it subject but also speaks of todays predicaments.

As far as the cast, there is great choice after great choice. Charlotte Kirk , who co-wrote and co-produced knows the material well and brings Grace to life in a way that does the film justice. She is on her A game and I can only see her improving as she was surrounded by an incredible cast. Besides Waddington and Pertwee, to play off of, she also shares the screen with Mark Ryan (Black Sails, Robin of Sherwood) as a jailer, who is a scene stealer in a handful of scenes.

This is a nice return to horror for Marshall and I hope for more from him in the future. Great characters and solid story that looks as good as it is written. This is a film to watch weather you are a horror fan or not. The story is what is important and the more so, the lessons we can take away.

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