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INTERVIEW: Inside ‘The Reckoning’ with Neil Marshall and Charlotte Kirk

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The Reckoning

On February 5, 2021, Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning is set for release in theaters and on VOD and digital. The film, co-written with star Charlotte Kirk, has had quite the journey to the screen.

Set in the 1600s against the backdrop of the plague, The Reckoning focuses on Grace (Kirk), a young widow trying to keep control of her land after the death of her husband. When she rebuffs her landlord’s sexual advances, she finds herself accused of witchcraft, placing her on a path that will change her life and the lives of those around her forever.

In advance of the film’s release Marshall and Kirk sat down with iHorror to discuss the film’s evolution from page to screen.

What kind of story would The Reckoning be?

It all began with the seed of a story brought to their attention by fellow scribe Edward Evers-Swindell who proposed a sort of Witchfinder General film with an ending more like Carrie.  It did not immediately appeal to Marshall, but it was enough for him to begin researching the long and varied history of witch trials in Europe. It was that research that solidified the idea for both Marshall and Kirk and got the creative ball rolling.

Depending on the source, it’s estimated that thousands of women were tortured and executed for witchcraft in Europe. It was up to Charlotte Kirk to bring reality to their suffering.

“If we kept closer to the truth then there was a great story there,” Marshall explained, “and taking an amalgamation of various women and the way they were sort of tortured and tried. Charlotte came up with the idea of not actually having any witches, per se.”

“I could tell Neil was kind of into it but he wasn’t,” Kirk continued. “I said, ‘I know you’re not interested in a lot of women flying around on broomsticks and such but what if there are no witches or if we keep it ambiguous, not on the nose.’ That was when it kind of clicked for us.”

It became important for both of them to write a film that, in its own way, honored the thousands of women who were tortured, tried, and convicted of a crime that did not actually exist. This feeling filled both writers with a sense of responsibility to telling the best story possible to honor those who had lived through this harrowing time in history.

In a way, they wanted to say something not only about that time period, but also that resonate with viewers in the 21st Century.

“Of course, when we made the film,” Marshall said, “we had no idea a plague was coming as well. We shot this in 2019 so we had no clue, but that angle has made it seem more relevant as well.”

The Reckoning Plague Doctors

Plague doctors and victims serve as a harrowing backdrop to The Reckoning.

Armed with their research, the two sat down to write the script, a process that they approached from entirely different directions. Kirk says that the varied approaches ultimately enriched the storytelling however, and also led to her starring in the film, though Marshall pointed out that he knew she would star in The Reckoning in the same way he knew that he would direct it.

“The great thing about writing is that I was looking at it from an actor’s point of view and Neil was looking at it from a director’s point of view,” Kirk explained. “It was just a great collaboration. I’m very left field from Neil while writing.”

“Obviously I have a lot of horror baggage I’m bringing to the piece and Grace was just kind of dipping her toes in horror for the first time,” the director whose previous work includes The Descent and Dog Soldiers among others said. “She brought a lot of ideas that were outside the box. She would take notions of typical horror and turn them on their heads without thinking about it. It was one of those fun writing experiences.”

Finding unexpected parallels between 1665 and 2021…

Still there is a huge gap between writing these harrowing scenes and playing them, and Kirk admits that it could be exhausting operating at an emotional 10 every single day and again, largely due to the responsibility of playing a character like Grace.

She’s a woman who stood up and said no when men tried to take her land and force her into the status quo as the dutiful and submissive woman. It’s a theme as relevant today as in 1665, a fact that is not lost on either of them.

“The villains were both examples of the abuse of power whether it’s the power of wealth or the power of religion, but that’s what they are. They’re bullies,” Marshall said.

“What’s changed in that world? Nothing,” Kirk continued. “Men are still very powerful; they’re in that position. It just is. Not only that but you have the whole religion thing. Someone mentioned the other day, ‘I don’t want to wear the mask because that’s the devil’s work.’ That’s something that someone would have said in 1665! It’s like, where have we come from in society?”

For better or worse, it is those very parallels that make The Reckoning such an emotional and terrifying force during a viewing, and is no little part of why the film has been winning awards at festivals for the last year, including taking home the prize for Best Feature at the 2020 iHorror Film Festival.

You can see The Reckoning tomorrow, February 5, 2021, in select theaters and on VOD and digital! Take a look at the trailer and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Cillian Murphy Officially Returning In ’28 Years Later’

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This may come as a shock to fans of the franchise. In an interview with Deadline, Sony Chairman Tony Rothman stated he would return “in a surprising way”. His character was last seen in the first film, 28 Days Later, and wasn’t seen again in the sequel, 28 Weeks Later. Other actors starring in the movie include Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jodie Comer, and more. Check out more of what he said and more about the film 28 Years Later below.

Movie Scene from 28 Days Later (2002)

Rothman stated, “Yes, but in a surprising way and in a way that grows, let me put it that way. This is Danny at his best, combined with a very commercial genre, like we had with Edgar Wright and Baby Driver.”

Movie Scene from 28 Days Later (2002)

While the plot is being kept under wraps, we know that this will be a trilogy of films and that Danny Boyle (28 Days Later) will direct the first film 28 Years Later. Alex Garland is writing the scripts for all 3 films. Danny Boyle’s role in the next two films is unknown as Nia DaCosta (Candyman 2021) is set to direct the second film. No director has been attached to the final film in the trilogy. Cillian Murphy will be an executive producer and actor for the first film. The film will also star Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Bullet Train), Jodie Comer (The Last Duel), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List), and Jack O’Connell (Eden Lake).

Movie Scene from 28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later was released in 2002 and follows the story of Jim (Cillian Murphy) who wakes up in a coma only to find that the city he is in is deserted. He later comes to find out that a mysterious aggression-inducing virus has swept through the United Kingdom and has turned everyone into flesh-eating zombies. The first film was a financial success, making $84.6M on an $8M Budget. 

Official Movie Poster for 28 Days Later (2002)

This is exciting news for fans of the franchise and a surprise as well. Are you excited that Cillian Murphy will be appearing in the film? Let us know in the comments below. Also, check out the trailer for the original film below.

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New Body Horror Film ‘The Substance’ Releases Teaser

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We haven’t seen Demi Moore in a movie since The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent back in 2022. She has been busy though, she had a part in Ryan Murphy’s latest Feud chapter and now she is contemplating altering her body to make it more youthful in the body horror film The Substance.

Apparently, according to the official synopsis, there is a newly developed beauty regimen that “generates another you. A new, younger, more beautiful, more perfect you. And there’s only one rule: You share time. One week for you. One week for the new you. Seven days each. A perfect balance. Easy. Right? If you respect the balance… what could possibly go wrong?”

A still from the film (used in out header) suggests that this new technology requires a lot more than dabbing it under your eyes or administering a sticky mask. The film premiered at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival and was bought by Mubi. No US release date has been announced.

The Substance

The Substance reminds us of another FDA nightmare, The Stuff (1985) in which a commercially marketed whipped treat turns people into zombies. That film is a dark comedy about consumerism and gluttony. While Deadline reports that The Substance is humourous as well as gory, they don’t say how rooted it is in satire.

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‘Fall’ Team Finds ‘Daybreakers’ Brothers to Helm Follow-Up

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The sleeper hit Fall (2022) is getting not one, but two sequels. Written and directed by Scott Mann, Fall was slow out of the gate thanks to a crunchy CGI trailer, but thanks to the performances, writing and outstanding direction, it found its footing to pull in seven times its original $3 million budget. That cashfall was mostly thanks to word of mouth and VOD.

The Spierig Brothers, Michael and Peter, are taking over the reins for Fall 2, with Mann returning to the director’s chair for its sequel Fall 3.

The Spierig Brothers delved into horror movies starting with Undead in 2003, and after that the apocalyptic vampire action thriller Daybreakers (2009). Perhaps their biggest break was getting to add to the Saw universe in 2017 with Jigsaw which led them to Winchester (2018) starring Helen Mirren.

Variety got a statement from the directing duo, in which they said, “We’re extremely excited to helm the second installment of this franchise and bring to life another nail biting, vertigo inducing thrill ride.“

Mann said he can’t wait for Flawless (his production company) to work with the brothers on this latest installment. “I am so proud to hand over the reins to the Spierigs, two highly respected genre directors whose addition will undoubtedly make this follow-up even more of a must-see experience than we already knew it would be.”

Fall 2 is written by Mann and his co-writer of the first film, Jonathan Frank. No plot details are being released at this time, however, movie site JoBlo has said some characters from the first film will return for the sequel.

So what do you think? Will lightning strike twice for Fall 2 and Fall 3 or was the first one enough for you? Let us know.

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