Review by John Delia

Inspired by actual events, the movie The Reckoning takes you to the past where we find a township in the throes of the Black Plague. Most interesting is the panic that revolved around the very devastating virus that spread like wildfire through blood from an infected person. In this film we find a diabolical government telling the people that the plague is caused by the Devil and spread through Witchcraft. In modern day we are experiencing a similar attack by the COVID-19 virus that attacks the body through droplets from an infected victim, however due to modern medicines we are able to protect the populace and even cure victims from this outbreak.

A still from the horror film, THE RECKONING, a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films/Shudder.

“England 1615 the year of the great plague. The pestilence has spread across the land, killing tens of thousands, destroying entire families and communities in its wake. Only a lucky few are spared a slow and agonizing death. The people are gripped by fear and paranoia, desperate to find something to blame, convinced the plague is the work of the Devil and his acolytes. This is the time of the Witch Finders dedicated servants of God, thriving on superstition, and empowered by the state to arrest, interrogate, and execute anyone suspected of witchcraft. It is estimated that up to 500,000 women were tried, tortured and executed for the crime of witchcraft in Europe and North America. The last woman to be executed in Britain was Janet Horne; she was stripped naked, covered with tar, and burned to death in 1727.” Filmmaker comment.

While digging his grave after the death of Grace’s (Charlotte Kirk) husband Joseph (Joe Anderson), we get glimpses of their life leading up to his suicide. Things start to spiral downward with problems including rent she still has to pay on her farm. Not caring about her plight, the town’s Squire Pendleton (Steven Waddington) puts pressure on her to pay it or she will be evicted. With little funds Grace heads to town where it has been dealing with the plague. When she looks for help she finds out that something heinous happened that involved the death of her husband.

Charlotte Kirk as Grace Haverstock in the horror film, THE RECKONING, a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films/Shudder.

Returning to her house in the backcountry she starts seeing apparitions. Director and co-writer Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones “The Watchers on the Wall”) puts together a tale of wickedness, divisiveness and dastard scheming leading to vengeance on Grace’s part. I like the way he leads his audience into the plot showing Grace’s misfortune and her determination to right the wrongs that have been bestowed upon her including being tried as a witch.

Marshall does a very good job of visualizing early England in costuming, sets, location, muskets and even torture devices. The countryside could easily been captured almost anywhere in Britain, but the town was special with the cobble streets, stone sided buildings and a castle overlooking the village. The lighting director showed the dank jail cells, the candle lighted chambers and the torture room where Grace is being put to the test by whip, chains, and cruelty devices all while strapped to various stocks and in braces.

Sean Pertwee as Moorcroft in the horror film, THE RECKONING, a RLJE Films/Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films/Shudder

The Reckoning has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains scenes of torture, sex/nudity, language, brutality, burning at the stake and grisly images. There have been many films depicting torture chambers, infected dead bodies piled on carts, but this one has a very sick form of torment that even I felt a bit uneasy. My rating on the film for those that are fans of English history, action involving a lot of discord and very good period depiction, is 4 out of 5 stars.

Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Charlotte Kirk, Joe Anderson, Steven Waddington, Sean Pertwee
Directed and co-written by: Neil Marshall
Genre: Action, Drama, History
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, nudity/sex, violence, brutality, language and grisly images
Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.
Video Release Date: April 6, 2021
Original Theatrical Release Date:
Language: English
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray
Subtitles: ENGLISH
Number of Discs: 1 Disc
Distributed by: RJLE
Released on: Blu-ray, DVD

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