There's a good chance that if you're one of our loyal Soulless Cult readers, you are probably well aware of the 1970s film Mark of the Devil that - for it's time - was one of the most shocking and disturbing horror films. Fifty years later, that same tone is being echoed these days with the recent release of THE RECKONING - a film that shares the same bare bones of Mark of the Devil, but tells a way more creative and disturbing story than Mark ever did. I wasn't entirely sure what exactly I was going into upon renting the movie, but once the credits began to roll I knew I found one of the best films I've seen in the last year, without a doubt. Directed by Neil Marshall, The Reckoning is one of the most powerful movies to make it to my watchlist lately; while it's filled with its decent amount of violence, blood and gore, it is all realistically placed, it's not overkill, it's not just violence for the sake of violence (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just this film didn't fall for it). The Reckoning is a story of inner strength, of dedication to the self and family, and to the truth - and the lead character doesn't mind spilling some blood to ensure her truth is known. Ten minutes into the movie, I was fully engulfed and I couldn't physically look away; from the story to the cast, the landscapes to the effects and score, The Reckoning is an absolute masterpiece of modern horror that now sits remarkably high on my list of favorites. My only wish for this movie is that it gets the audiences it deserves.
London, 1665 - The Great Plague is quickly and violently spreading and everyone is already living in fear. Bodies are being stacked high, and they are being stacked quickly. A beautiful young couple live outside of the main city, where they have their newborn baby girl to care for away from all of the sickness. Unfortunately, Grace Haverstock's (Charlotte Kirk) husband Joseph (Joe Anderson) gets infected with the disease and his inevitable death is slow and agonizing. He ends up hanging himself to put an end to his pain and misery, and poor widowed Grace is left to fend for herself and her baby all on her own. After burying her own husband, she gets a visit from Squire Pendleton, who lays claim to all of the property that she is living and farming on. He's pretty heartless from the get-go, but becomes vile by suggesting she can pay her rent through sexual favors; and when she declines, the plot of the film really begins. Pendleton accuses Grace of being a witch, and blaming her for the death of her husband - and so it begins: the bloody, merciless witch hunt for Grace to force her to admit to being the devil's wench. Grace is put through some pretty fucked up torture by Pendleton's colleagues, but it's not until he calls John Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee) to the city where things get really fucked up. Moorcroft is a witch hunter who is very confident in his ability to get even the most hardened witches to crack and admit to their charges, it doesn't matter the length he has to go to to get it. What follows is the unbelievably badass persistence and strength of Grace to endure the torture, escape from the witch trail, find her daughter and get as far away from the city as possible. Will Grace be able to escape the hold Pendleton and Moorcroft have over her life and see her innocent daughter again? Find out in... THE RECKONING!
Let me get one thing out of the way first, while there is no shortage of torture scenes, scenes of agony, blood, violence and even mental torture (as soon as she falls asleep, Grace is doused in water to prevent her from getting any rest), The Reckoning is far from a "torture porn" flick (again, nothing wrong with those, but this movie ain't it). The torture scenes in this film set a tone and create this horrifyingly dark atmosphere that some films dream of. You can feel the tension in many of the scenes where the pubic are by Grace; you know they know her innocence but are afraid to speak up for fearing of being "next." What Grace goes through is fucking horrific, but it absolutely helps establish the dreadful climate in the city at the time. That being said, from a movie standpoint, these scenes are fucking phenomenal - they offer just the right amount of on-screen time and blood where you're intrigued by what's happening, but you've also secretly had enough (for Grace's sake). And you want it to end because of how amazing of a character Grace Haverstock is; she's mentally strong and determined and just an overall badass. Charlotte Kirk put on an unforgettable performance as Grace, and even though Moorcroft is an absolute piece of shit human being who will burn in hell for his actions, Sean Pertwee is an absolute beast as well and slays his role as the "witch hunter" who just tortures women until they admit to false accusations. Honestly, there's no bad characters and no bad acting in this film as a whole; the film doesn't introduce you to too many characters, but the ones you do, they are all pretty memorable and awesome.
Do yourself a favor and dedicate two hours of your weekend to The Reckoning. The film is one of the best period piece films I've seen in a long time, and I'm very confident fans of the genre will appreciate the storytelling that goes into a movie like this. Check it out!!!