The opening film in Fantasia has the tendency to be a mixed bag. Usually, it has decent production and often some sort of mainstream creds. The execution sometimes disappoints. Don’t be discouraged by this, it doesn’t mean anything for the rest of the selection. This does not mean the festival is lost. Hidden gems is what Fantasia does best, and I’ve already seen some excellent offerings down the road. You can probably guess where this review is headed, though.
The Reckoning was directed by Neil Marshall and written by him and lead actress Charlotte Kirk. The plague is spreading across the land. Grace Havestock (Charlotte Kirk) loses her husband after he becomes infected decides to kill himself. She is accused of witchcraft by her landlord and has to face the judgement of Witch Finder John Moorcraft (Sean Pertwee) which means she has to endure an unending amount of torture.
This was supposed to be a horror film. It feels a lot more like fantasy. The tone shifts all over the place, specially towards the end. The horror sequences seem to be all hallucination brought on by… I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’s Grace’s grief, sometimes it’s due to torture and sometimes there’s really no reason at all. Actually, the film seems to be enamored with the idea that Grace is being courted by the devil but following the supposed logic of the film, she’s actually innocent. By the way, Grace uses eyeliner throughout the whole film. Yeah, this is me nitpicking but it’s quite evident.
Given one of the selling points is the filmmakers’ Game of Thrones credits, one could make comparisons between the two. However, this feels a lot less like of Thrones and more like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Sean Pertwee tries to lend some class to the film, and I respect him for it but it doesn’t quite get anywhere. The plot also has the tendency to over-explain past scenes with flashbacks. Basically what we saw we need to see again to see a scene we didn’t saw when we first saw it. I know that’s a runalong sentence, that’s exactly how I felt when the movie double backs on itself.
Not recommended. Didn’t work for me. The story itself doesn’t have to be linear, but it also feels like the story changes its mind a couple of times just to add more scenes at the end. It feels more like fantasy than horror, with jumpscares that don’t fit the storyline and hallucinations for the heck of it. The conclusion is a bit of a knot that I didn’t care to undo. The little potential that it had is lost on cartoonish villains, tavern scenes and people running around looking for a finale. But this is just the start. The festival has so many surprises to give us.
That will do for now.
Hi there! Like you, I thought this film had many shortcomings. (And yet, many people who wrote on the Fantasia Facebook page indicated that they thought it was OK, or even better than OK.)
I agree that it might have worked better as a fantasy, because there were so many historical inaccuracies in it. (I will discuss them when I write a review myself.) I think the scenes with the devil were there largely to spice up the trailer, and attract viewers. Don’t forget though, that they would not let her sleep, so the devil could well be an “hallucination brought on by” that very lack of sleep. She had several wounds that weren’t really treated properly, too. Can infection cause hallucinations? I’ll have to look it up, but I wouldn’t be surprised! BTW: I really like your “That will do for now,” sign-off!
Thank you. Yeah, I still have plenty of nitpicks with it. The eyeliner. The amount of candles burning inside the cells. Why would prisoners get candles? The devil scenes could be justified as hallucinations. They could’ve worked an angle with those by adding some ambiguity in which we couldn’t quite say whether they were all illusions. That I wouldn’t have minded.
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