After production company logos and title cards describing the state of plague-stricken 1665 England, The Reckoning devotes nearly 10 full minutes to two sequences. One follows the last days of tenant Joseph (Joe Anderson), who contracts the sickness while on a trip to sell his grain in London. Upon learning of his infection, Joseph chooses to hang himself, rather than risk spreading the disease to his wife and daughter. This story comes intercut into a lengthy scene involving Joseph’s wife Grace (Charlotte Kirk) discovering the body, cutting it down, and burying it in a grave outside her house.
Every element of the film works to underscore Grace’s suffering. Mud and slime slide through her hands as she claws away at the dirt. We feel every grunt she makes as she swings a sword at her husband’s noose, hoping the body will finally fall. Cinematographer Luke Bryant smears the scene with grey tones, accentuated by a syrupy score from Christopher Drake oozing pathos into every possible aspect.
If that strikes you as “too much,” then you might as well give up on The Reckoning right away, because it never grows more subtle.