Parents' Guide to

The Reckoning

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Black Plague/witch-hunt tale has violence, torture, sex.

Movie NR 2021 110 minutes
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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.

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