The Reckoning review – witch movie descends into misogynistic torture ordeal | Film

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Here’s a deeply unpleasant and misogynistic horror about a woman accused of witchcraft, made in the image of Game of Thrones by British film-maker Neil Marshall (who has directed episodes of GoT).

It starts off inoffensively, if shonkily. The year is 1665; the setting might be Essex or perhaps Yorkshire – the characters are a mix of blunt northerners and Essex chappies. Charlotte Kirk (co-writer of the script with Marshall) stars as farmer’s wife Grace Haverstock, whose husband hangs himself after being infected with bubonic plague. “I’m sorry for your loss,” says the landlord of the local boozer; the dialogue is a laughable mashup of modern and ye olden medieval.

Grace is raw with grief – though it’s hard to tell from Kirk’s one-expression-fits-all wooden performance. (The costume and makeup departments don’t help, styling her like she’s modelling the cover of a Mills & Boon cover, bodice ripe for the ripping, hair teased to a salon flick.) The village squire (Steven Waddington) accuses Grace of witchcraft after she rejects his advances, and calls in infamous witchfinder John Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee), a predictably pious hypocrite who arrives with a sinister cloaked female servant, Ursula (Suzanne Magowan), at his side.

Up until this point, The Reckoning is merely ropey. Then Grace is strapped into a torture device and has a muzzle-like metal mask put over her face (presumably so that the audience can gawp at her being tortured without having to deal with seeing her agony). The witchfinder orders Ursula to turn Grace into a pincushion with tiny daggers. On day four, still not confessing, she is raped with an instrument that looks like a smear-test speculum but splays open to inflict grievous internal injuries. Late on in the third act, Grace gets her revenge – though how she can rampage around slaying after being tortured for days is never explained. The film left me shaking with anger more than fear.

The Reckoning is released on 16 April on digital platforms.

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Source: The Guardian
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