After losing her husband to the Plague, widow Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk) is unjustly accused of witchcraft by her landlord and is put on trial by determined inquisitor John Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee).
Neil Marshall is a director whose name on a project always piques my interest. His 2005 subterranean horror opus The Descent is one of the best films of the century. Dog Soldiers and Centurion are both very, very good and very, very entertaining. He oversaw some of the best episodes of “Game of Thrones” during its first few seasons. Even his strange, overlong and moderately messy The Road Warrior-meets-Escape from New York riff Doomsday is filled with some incredibly memorable moments, making it far more worthy of a look than should likely be the case.
What I imagine what was supposed to be a way to reenergize his creative batteries after having to deal with all sorts of reported studio interference and tinkering as it pertained to 2019’s underwhelming Hellboy, sorry to say that minimalist low budget thriller The Reckoning might just be the biggest disappointment of Marshall’s career. Co-written with star Kirk, this is a plodding, relentlessly frustrating dramatic horror yarn that goes nowhere of interest.
Don’t blame the performances. While I may have issues with the sparse, unfocused screenplay she conceived with the director, Kirk still throws herself body and soul into the material. She’s easy to watch throughout, even when Grace is being assaulted physically and psychologically in the most inhuman and ghastly ways imaginable. As for Pertwee, he could do this sort of over-the-top mustache-twirling menace in his sleep, and in a better motion picture, his villainous Moorcroft might be worth paying attention to.
But so many subplots are left unfinished. None of the characters are fully conceived. There is no mystery where all of this is heading. Worst of all, Marshall can’t decide whether he’s making something as exuberantly despicable as the Vincent Price classic Witchfinder General, or instead wants to go in a more mysteriously serious direction as in the case of 1986’s The Name of the Rose with Sean Connery.
This imbalance shows throughout and, in large part because of this, watching the film becomes increasingly torturous as it goes along. Maybe the idea is that Marshall wanted the viewer to feel the same way that Grace does, but I have trouble believing that is the case. Why? I just never felt attached enough to her for this symmetry between my viewing experience and her character’s travails for that to be the case.
There are some nice visual touches, and Ian Bailie’s (Beyond Skyline) production design is strong and cinematographer Luke Bryant shoots the heck out of it all. None of which is enough, but it’s all still worth mentioning, and I wish I could come up with a few more bright spots to extoll the virtues of.
But I can’t. The Reckoning isn’t very good, and unlike every other title in Marshall’s filmography (even Hellboy), this is the only one I can unequivocally state I will never watch again.
The Reckoning is presented on a 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.39:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and includes optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
The only extras included with this release are a selection of Deleted Scenes.
The Reckoning is a frustrating misfire. While RLJE’s Blu-ray presentation is solid from a technical perspective, unless one is a Neil Marshall completist I have trouble coming up with a single reason why anyone would want to add this release to their personal library.