Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 11, 2021)
With a title like The Reckoning, no one should expect a light comedy from the 2020 film. As anticipated, we find a dark drama.
Set in England during the Great Plague of the 17th century, Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk) loses her husband Joseph (Joe Anderson) to suicide after he gets this disease. Wracked by grief, Grace encounters another problem when she becomes accused of witchcraft.
This leads Grace to torture under the hands of “witch hunter” Judge John Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee). As she endures this torment, Grace struggles to retain her sanity.
At the start, we find ourselves told that Reckoning comes “inspired by actual events”, a notification that sets the lowest of bars. Movies “based on actual events” take plenty of liberties, and “inspired by” flicks sport even less connection to facts.
As such, it seems best to ignore the idea that Reckoning bears much basis in history. Of course, a plague did afflict England in the 17th century, and people did get accused of witchcraft, but otherwise, one assumes we find a fictional tale.
And a silly fictional tale, too, as Reckoning fails on almost all possible accounts. Whatever potential this story boasts gets wasted.
As badly as Reckoning wants to provide a terrifying psychological drama, it comes across much more like parody. From start to finish, this melodramatic, overwrought effort seems ridiculous.
This starts from the movie’s opening and never stops. Every second of the flick becomes treated as Major Drama, with a relentless score and overdone visuals.
And jump scares – lots and lots of jump scares.
Not only does Reckoning utterly fail to find the human drama inherent in the tale, but also it simply seems silly. For someone in the midst of a plague, Grace sure looks great – who sculpts her eyebrows and does her hair? No matter how downtrodden and grimy she becomes, Grace still looks like she stepped from the cover of a romance novel.
Kirk brings a painfully overacted performance, though she doesn’t stand alone in that regard. Everyone emotes up the wazoo in this absurdly operatic effort.
All of this simply feels desperate, as though the filmmakers believe that if they ratchet everything to 11, we’ll take away emotional impact. Unfortunately, the opposite proves true, as this becomes a ludicrous, amateurish project with virtually no redeeming elements.