The Reckless is a fantastic setting for a horror movie. Set in England during the height of The Great Plague in 1655, the movie is about a woman named Grace Haverstock (co writer Charlotte Kirk) who is accused of witchcraft. The majority of the film focuses on the trial.
The story seems like the perfect opportunity to show the challenges of being a woman in 17th century England. There is some of that, but it is usually in quick conversation or through Grace’s friend Kate. The strength Grace shows is more personal than empowering.
This is an odd decision. Kirk exudes confidence and makes a great heroine. Her fortitude is shown during The Reckoning’s numerous torture scenes. Many times over, she proves capable of protecting herself and her baby.
The story itself also draws parallels to headlines today. Grace is only accused of being a witch after turning down the sexual advances of the squire of the land. The Reckoning uses the moment as little more than a plot device.
The Reckoning tends to fall into a formula once the trial begins. Broken into chapters, it becomes a series of torture scenes followed by the nightmares of the deteriorating Grace. Though it becomes repetitive, it works due to Director Neil Marshall’s refusal to glamorize the torture.
The dream sequences never feel like more than what they are. Still, they do an excellent job of demonstrating the trauma Grace is going through. Many horror movies use dreams to blur the line between reality and fantasy. In The Reckoning, they are used for something deeper.
Production wise, The Reckoning looks and sounds great. The setting and costumes have a gothic feel while the creature design is a highlight. The film’s score is also a standout. It adds atmosphere to the movie. One glaring issue is Grace looks little more than inconvenienced after days of arduous torture.
Witch hunt stories provide a wealth of material. Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning touches on the main themes of the sub genre such as violence against women and mass hysteria. While flawed, it is an exciting watch.
The Reckoning comes to theaters, on demand, and digital February 5
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