Plot In a Nutshell:
England 1665, the Great Plague is rife, death is everywhere, no one is safe, a terrified population is gripped by fear, superstition and paranoia. In the middle of all this horror Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk) lives alone with her baby daughter and is struggling to make ends meet after the suicide of her husband. After the local Squire (Steven Waddington) proposes she pays him his rent in kind, she rebuffs his violent advances so he falsely accused accuses her of witchcraft, takes her daughter, throws her in prison and calls for the infamous Judge Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee) England’s most feared Witchfinder General to extract a false confession under excruciating torture. Its now a battle of wills to see how long Grace can hold out before she can seize her chance to escape and save herself and her daughter from certain death.
As he showed in Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday and Centurion, Neil Marshall’s direction is once again very good, here cleverly creating a taught claustrophobic story full of creepy atmospherics and at times startlingly horrific images. Then there is Sean Pertwee who is fantastic as the sadistic Judge Moorcroft, ably bringing to life what is a staggeringly horrible character. He is also ably supported by Steven Waddington as the villainous Squire.
What could have been better:
Well unfortunately the casting of Charlotte Kirk in the lead was perhaps a bit of a misstep on the part of Marshall and the casting directors. Now, to be fair I’ll give her this – she tries hard and really gives it her all throughout but sadly the simple fact of the matter is that she just isn’t a very good actress, completely lacks any screen presence, and is just too wooden and stilted to be taken seriously, as result this really dragged the film down somewhat, which was a real shame as a better actress (someone like Noomi Rapace would be been perfect) could have brought so much more to the role.
Staying on Kirks character – this poor woman undergoes some absolutely appalling torture at the hands of Pertwee’s Witchfinder – in fact in one scene she is subjected to suffer ‘The Pear Of Anguish’ – now I’m not going to into what this particular device does, but all I will say is that it made my eyes water just looking at it. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when not long after Kirk is tortured with this thing (along with various other implements of pain) she is walking and running with nary a wince or flicker of discomfort – which, to say the least stretched credulity to breaking point.
Finally im afraid that those of you who are ardent Monty Python fans will be unable to stop chortling every time you see a plague victim (no one will be able to resist muttering “bring out yer dead!”) or hear Pertwee repeatedly shout “Confess!” – however this obviously no ones fault but then again if you are going to make a film featuring the plague and witchcraft then what do you expect???
Well directed by the ever-reliable Neil Marshall and featuring solid performances from Sean Pertwee and Steven Waddington. The Reckoning is overall a pretty good slice of solid entertainment, but frankly could have been so much better had it not been for the casting of Charlotte Kirk in the central role – she tries her best but simply just isnt good enough and sadly that is to the films detriment.
Despite this The Reckoning is certainly worth a watch.
This film is available to rent on Amazon Prime