The Reckoning

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Reckoning Movie Poster Image
Black Plague/witch-hunt tale has violence, torture, sex.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 110 minutes

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Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The witch-hunts of the 15th through 18th centuries lend themselves to discussion about lying, deception, violence, mass hysteria, and mob rule, as well as justice, fairness, understanding, and empathy. Sadly, the movie doesn't talk about the events much, other than showing torture: Opening text provides a brief introduction to the events of the day.

Positive Role Models

Grace is strong and refuses to give up, even in the face of impossible odds, but she's also so flat and lifeless -- and so much time is devoted to her long, blonde hair and looks -- that she becomes less of a role model than she might have been.


Tons of graphic, gory violence. A woman is tortured -- whipped, with a bloody back, and strapped to a torture rack. Foot stabbed with blade. Bloody wounds. Inserting torture device in woman's genital area; screaming. Character's head run over by cart, with blood spurt. A man tries to rape a woman; they slap each other, and she burns his hand with a poker and kicks him in the face. Women are punched, slapped, wrestled, choked, set on fire, and shot. One character gouges another's eyes. Characters are hit with blunt objects, stabbed with sharp things, beheaded, and stabbed. Character with burn scars. Guns and shooting. Fighting. Imprisonment. Nightmares with gory corpses, scary ghosts, demons. Dead bodies. Hanging dog corpses. Dogs eat a bloody human corpse. Soldiers hauling a character away. Hanged man. Character digs a grave for dead spouse. Fire and explosion. Gross plague sores and wounds. Character collapses, foaming at mouth. A character flogs themselves. Dialogue about a man beating a woman to death with an iron skillet. Dialogue about people being burned alive.


A married couple has sex; woman is on top of a man, with, thrusting and moaning. Her naked bottom is shown more than once. In dreams, brief flashes back to sex. Kissing.


Brief language includes "f--k," "s--t" "bastard," "damn," "hell," "whore," and "moron," plus mentions of "God."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief social drinking in pub.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Reckoning is a horror movie about a woman accused of witchcraft during the time of the Black Plague. It's very violent, with lots of torture and violence against women; it's also dull and uninspired. A woman is whipped, stabbed, and stretched on a rack; a torture device is inserted into her genital area, and a man tries to rape her. Women are also punched, slapped, wrestled, choked, set on fire, and shot. A character's head is crushed by a cart (blood spurt shown), people have their eyes gouged, are stabbed and hit with blunt objects, and more. Guns are shown and shot, and there are scary nightmare sequences with demons. There's a fairly explicit sex scene that shows a woman atop her husband, with thrusting and moaning. Her naked bottom is seen a few times. Language includes sporadic uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "damn," and a few other words. Characters drink in a tavern.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byLoranikas303 February 9, 2021

The trashoning

This movie will give you nightmares! It was like an live action version of Hazbin Hotel. And why did they made a cover of this creep on the sword that copied Di... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE RECKONING, it's 1665, during the time of the Black Plague, and Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk) finds herself widowed with a young baby after her husband (Joe Anderson) contracts the dreaded disease. While trying to run the small family farm by herself, she's approached by the evil landlord, Pendleton (Steven Waddington), demanding rent. Grace asks for more time, but Pendleton tries to rape her. Back at the tavern, his version of events brings about calls of witchcraft. Notorious witchfinder Judge Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee) is called in, and Grace is captured, imprisoned, and tortured. But she refuses to confess. Rather, she holds onto hope that she can escape and be reunited with her baby daughter.

Is it any good?

Long and grim, this Black Plague-era witchcraft story is miles away from the artistry and scares of something like The Witch. It focuses instead on endless, uninspired scenes of torture and nightmares. Director Neil Marshall, who made an auspicious debut into horror with the films Dog Soldiers and The Descent, has trouble reaching those heights again with The Reckoning. He seems to want to go to very dark places with the material, but he also pulls back at the last minute, creating a kind of numbing quality. The tortures that Grace is subjected to are suggested to be quite severe, but little actual gore is shown, and Grace always seems fine afterward, with her hair and makeup barely affected.

The screenplay, co-written by Marshall, Edward Evers-Swindell, and star Kirk, dishes out several "surprises," mostly little origin stories that reveal how certain characters or situations came about. But all of them are easily guessed. Especially frustrating is that The Reckoning has very little to say about the plague, or witch-finders -- both of which could have been thematically linked to modern times -- and spends very little time developing the characters past their most basic wants. Marshall gets in a couple of good moments here and there, notably a sequence in which Grace looks for an intruder in the darkness amidst flashes of lightning, but those are few and far between.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Reckoning's violence. How did it make you feel? How much is directed at women? How does that affect its impact on you?

  • What did you learn about this era in history from watching the movie? How accurate do you think it is? How does the concept of witch hunting apply to current events?

  • Do you consider Grace a role model? What are her strengths? What are her flaws?

  • Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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