After losing her husband during the Great Plague, Grace Haverstock is unjustly accused of being a witch and placed in the custody of England’s most ruthless witch-hunter, Judge Moorcroft. Forced to endure physical and emotional torture while steadfastly maintaining her innocence, Grace must face her own inner demons as the Devil himself starts to work his way into her mind.
Starring: Joe Anderson, Sean Pertwee, and Charlotte Kirk
Directed by: Neil Marshall
Written by: Edward Evers-Swindell, and Charlotte Kirk
“The Reckoning” came for many back in the day, but did they deserve it? This story opens in dramatic fashion as Grace (Charlotte Kirk) is forced to bury her husband. Apparently he has committed suicide after getting the plague. She’s left with her baby, and rent to pay on the home they live in. Some might expect some compassion, but she won’t be getting any from Pendleton (Steven Waddington), the landlord.
Pendleton is looking for rent and more from Grace, but she’s not ready to move on. He doesn’t handle her rejection well, and eventually convinces the town that she’s a witch. They capture her, and put her on trial in front of Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee), who is part judge and part witch hunter. Now Grace is subjected with torture, and choices to make. Will she make it out alive, or be burnt at the stake like the rest of the witches?
The film starts off with the plague and some excitement, but then becomes a long witch trial. Once Grace is thrown in a cell it becomes Grace having her own demon to deal with, and one in the form of Moorcroft. They do manage to create a pretty creepy demon that haunts her nightmares, but the real danger here is Moorcroft. No matter what Grace says he has no intentions of letting her go. He tortures her time after time, but finds it hard to get a confession out of her. No worries for those who hate torture scenes, as they show more of the aftermath of the torture than the actual process.
Much of the middle of the film is used to try to get the audience to feel sorry for what Grace is going through. It tries to tear her down, and show this woman overcoming all these men who are holding her back. With this, the audience misses out on more of the better action scenes created early on, and in the final act. They manage to pop in a few good deaths that are almost forgotten in all the time watching Grace suffer. And while the audience should be focusing on Grace, it seems Moorcroft simply dominates the scenes he’s in, and that just might be a credit to Sean’s performance more than anything else.
In “The Reckoning,” plague and a witch trial are used to set up Grace’s downfall, and chance to overcome the odds. It shows what a woman had to go through during those times just to survive. Oddly, while the story is about a woman conquering her demons and the men around her the same can’t be said for the acting. Strong performances by Sean Pertwee, and Steven Waddington might overshadow what Charlotte Kirk tries to do with her character. It also doesn’t help she never seems to get as dirty as everyone else is. The opening and final acts create an appropriate atmosphere squeezing in a few nice shoots, and manage some good deaths. However the long trial is just too repetitive, and doesn't go far enough in showing the torture. With that said, the reckoning has come for this film, and I give it 2.5 pools of blood.
RLJE Films and Shudder will release the action / horror THE RECKONING In Theaters, On Demand and Digital February 5, 2021.