When Director, Neil Marshall hit the horror scene with his debut feature, Dog Soldiers, he hit hard with a werewolf film that not only had its own identity but packed with a little humour.
He then went on to prove that he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder with his sophomore outing The Descent, strengthened his position as a genre film director and won some dedicated supporters of his craft.
It would appear though, that Marshall’s magic was waning as he struggled with his third attempt to appeal to his audience with Doomsday, despite high hopes abound. And even his follow up feature, Centurion, starring Michael Fassbender stuck to average mediocrity.
By the mid 2010’s though, he managed to strike gold twice for popular tv series Game of Thrones with two of its best episodes, Blackwater and The Watchers On The Wall, which led some to believe that he still could captivate and entertain on a large scale. Those walls of expectations fell down however with the re-imagined Hellboy missing the beats once again.
Despite all this, Marshall’s name still fills me with optimism and so when it came to light that his latest feature, The Reckoning was to stream on Shudder, I was front and centre for its debut.
Unfortunately, it falls short of my expectations and struggles with a saturated introduction to its central character, Grace (Charlotte Kirk, who also co writes the screenplay alongside Marshall and Edward Evers-Swindell) whose husband falls foul to the plague and rather than become a burden to his family and possibly infect them, takes his own life. This leaves Grace to try and make her own way and find the means to support her baby. Easier said than done with a horrible landlord Pendleton (Steven Waddington) abusing his power and corruption to force Grace to drastic means.
But such is the way of the world, as soon as a woman should stand up for herself, she’s labelled a witch, taken away to be trialed for these convictions.
All this seems to take an age to get to this point and has a wishy-washy way of taking us there, coming across as made for a TV feature.
It’s such a shame as it feels so strained and without substance. In fact, it’s not until the ever-dependable Sean Pertwee makes his entrance as the witchfinder Moorcroft that the film starts to lift out of the quagmire of stales. He chomps and chews his way through each scene with glorious humour and glee, that it was a joy to watch him. By this stage I was only too relieved as I’m not so sure I could have endured anymore if his presence wasn’t made.
By the end of the movie though, it trudges to a conclusion with a thinly veiled attempt to tie this back to history, but by this point, I was beyond caring.
I so wanted Marshall to come good with this film, as he definitely has the directing chops to pull it off.
The bang is quickly turned to a whimsical whimper though and fails to flicker on the pulsometer of fun.
It’s only appeal is Sean Pertwee, whose larger than life witchfinder is gloriously fun.
The rest of the movie however, just doesn’t resonate.
- Saul Muerte