Saturday, June 19, 2021

New Movie Review: Censor

2021 is shaping up to be a great year for horror.  We've had style-over-substance movies that are so fun you don't care about their shortcomings, deep films that get stuck in your head long after the credits roll, and everything in between.  My top ten list is already really solid just six months into the year, and after watching Censor, I'm happy to say that the parade of awesome movies doesn't look like it's going to slow down any time soon.

Censor is a British psychological horror movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, and it just recently became available to a wider audience.  It opened in very limited theaters on June 11, and it hit VOD on June 18.

The story is set during the video nasty era in England, and if you don't know what that is, let me give you a brief overview.  In the early 1980s, the BBFC, the organization that gives movies their ratings in England just like the MPA (formerly the MPAA) does in America, only rated movies that came out in theaters.  Direct-to-video films were able to bypass the system, so controversy erupted when a bunch of really violent and sexually explicit movies began to hit home video.  Eventually, they passed a law requiring these movies to be rated as well, and the BBFC employed censors to watch them and decide whether they could hit the market as is or if they needed to be cut or even just banned outright.

Censor follows one of these BBFC censors, a woman named Enid, who really believes in her work.  She genuinely thinks she's providing an important service for society, and the film hammers this home by depicting her as a very conservative person overall.  Everything from the way she carries herself to the way she dresses gives off that vibe, so it's no surprise that she would be in favor of censoring horror movies.

During the course of her work, Enid comes across a movie that she thinks could provide the key to the disappearance of her sister when they were young, and she eventually goes down a bit of a rabbit hole exploring video nasties and the people who make them.  Her already-fragile mental state begins to deteriorate, and her descent into madness climaxes in arguably the best ending I've seen all year.

Like I said before, this is a psychological horror movie, and whenever I hear a film described that way, I never quite know what to expect.  Is it going to be a genuine horror film, or will it just be a psychological thriller?  I went into this one with that same uncertainty, and after watching it, I can tell you without a doubt that this is in fact a horror movie.

That being said, Censor isn't going to be for everyone.  While it's a legit horror film, it's very, very slow.  Much like Saint Maud, this one takes its sweet time getting to the scary stuff, so you need to be patient with it.  I wasn't expecting a scare every few minutes, but even I was surprised at how slow it was.  For most of its runtime, the movie plays more like a psychological thriller, but then in the final few scenes, the horror comes to the surface in a big way.  It's one of the most shocking and effective horror endings I've seen in a while, so even though it takes a bit to get there, it's totally worth the wait.

But I don't want you to get the wrong idea.  The first part of the film isn't just filler that you have the slog through to get to the good stuff.  No, the whole thing is really good, and it's largely because actress Niamh Algar does a great job as Enid. She carries you through the slower parts and then gets the job done equally well when the pace begins to pick up, so you never get bored watching her.  What's more, Enid's slow descent into madness is pretty interesting as well. It thrills you and keeps your eyes glued to the screen as you wonder where this journey will end up, so even though most of the movie doesn't feel like full-on horror, it's horrific enough to hold you over until the blood-soaked finale.

On top of all that, I really enjoyed the message of this film too.  I can't say to much about this without spoiling the ending, so I'll just say that Censor asks some great questions about what effects horror movies have on viewers and whether horror filmmakers or the people who want to censor their work are the real dangers to society.  It also touches a bit on why we watch horror films, and if you're a genre fan, I think you're going to like what this movie has to say.

All in all, I was a big fan of Censor, and to be honest, I don't have many criticisms of it.  There are a handful of things I could nitpick, but the movie is so well-made that I didn't really care about them.  This is an interesting story that's well-acted and well-directed, and the horrific ending is an absolute cherry on top.  Like I said before, the slow pace isn't going to be for everyone, but if this sounds like your kind of film, you're not going to want to miss it.

Friday, April 23, 2021

New Movie Review: Mortal Kombat

Is Mortal Kombat really a horror movie?  Technically, no.  But it's a gory, bloody action film with supernatural elements and some horror-esque monsters, and horror sites all around the web are covering it.  Plus, it's really fun, so I just want to review it.  The movie came out on April 23 on HBO Max and in movie theaters, and I've been really looking forward to it ever since the trailer came out about two months ago.  I was a huge fan of the first three Mortal Kombat games as a kid, and even though I haven't been a gamer for over ten years, the franchise still holds a special place in my heart.

The premise of this movie is simple.  It exists in a world filled with multiple realms, and there's one in particular, called Outworld, that wants to invade earth.  However, they can't just bring their army and attack the way you see in most movies.  No, there are rules for this sort of thing, so to invade another realm, Outworld has to win ten straight Mortal Kombat tournaments.  Each tournament pits the best fighters of both realms against each other, and Outworld is currently on a nine-tournament win streak against earth.  If they win the next one, they can finally take it as their prize.

The situation is pretty dire, so humanity's champions have to do their best to defeat their enemies and stop Outworld from taking over their world.  Interestingly, though, this film isn't actually about the tournament.  Instead, it's kind of like a prequel.  Outworld is sending assassins to kill off all of earth's best fighters, so the good guys have to band together and make sure they survive until the tournament can actually start.  It's an interesting concept, and I think it works.  It sets the film apart from the first Mortal Kombat movie from 1995, and it gives the franchise some room to breathe and to build up the story more than they could in just a single film (assuming that this one gets some sequels).

So what did I think of the movie?  Like I said before, it's super fun, and that's hands down its biggest strength.  It has some really great fights, and just about all of them feature the violence and blood the video games are known for.  If you're a fan of gory martial arts action with a few superpowers thrown in, then you're going to enjoy the fights in this movie.

On top of those awesome fights, the film also does a great job of bringing to life some of the most iconic characters from the video games.  They look and feel just like the characters I remember playing as and against about twenty-five years ago, so if you're a Mortal Kombat fan, you're going to get a huge kick out of seeing beloved favorites like Liu Kang, Raiden, Goro, and Sub-Zero do their thing.

If you're not already a fan of the franchise, it's tough for me to say how I think you'll react to the characters, but I can say one thing.  Since I only played the first three games, and since I played them so long ago, I don't remember all the little details about the mythology, so there were a bunch of things in this movie that were new to me.  But I still really enjoyed all the lore in it even when I didn't remember it from my gaming days, so I suspect that there might be enough here for non-fans to enjoy as well.

All that being said, I have to admit that as much fun as I had with this movie, it's far from perfect.  In fact, I'd probably even go so far as to say that it's more of a fun movie than a good movie.  It's very, very flawed.  Most notably for me, a bunch of the dialogue was pretty cringe-worthy.  The film tried to incorporate some of the most famous phrases from the video games, like "flawless victory" and "finish him," but they often come out feeling very cheesy and out of place.  To take just one example, there's a shot in the trailer where the character Kano wins a fight and then says "Kano wins," and in the trailer it's really cool.  But when you see it in the movie, it doesn't make much sense.  The filmmakers tried a bit too hard on that front, and the end result probably would've been better if they had just left those lines out of the script.

On a more "big picture" note, even though I really enjoyed seeing some of my favorite Mortal Kombat characters brought to life, they're not exactly great examples of narrative complexity and nuance.  The vast majority of them, especially the Outworld forces, are pretty one-dimensional, and the same is true of the story as a whole.  There's simply not much substance behind it.  It basically just serves as an excuse to showcase the cool fights, so in that sense, it's kind of like the plot of the recent Godzilla vs Kong.  If you're looking for deep metaphorical meanings or a shining example of the fine art of cinema, you're not going to find it here.  This movie is all about having fun, so if you go into it wanting anything more than that, you're going to be disappointed.

But if you're OK with that, you're going to have a really good time with this film.  It has awesome action, really cool characters, and all the blood and gore that I remember from when I used to put in the "blood code" in the very first Mortal Kombat game on Sega Genesis.  It hit all the right nostalgia buttons for me, so while I wish the story were a bit deeper, I'm not disappointed at all.  On the contrary, I just got done watching it on HBO Max, and I can't wait to go to the theater in a few days and see it again.

Friday, April 2, 2021

New Movie Review: The Unholy

The Unholy is a new supernatural horror movie that came out in theaters on April 2, and it's about a Catholic girl who supposedly sees visions of the Virgin Mary.  Through her, "Mary" brings a message of absolute faith and devotion, and she wins over a multitude of followers with some pretty incredible healings.  However, as with all horror movies, the truth behind these apparitions is much darker than anyone imagines.  The girl isn't really seeing the Virgin Mary.  Instead, she's actually being visited by the spirit of a woman who pledged herself to Satan almost 200 years prior, and this evil ghost is planning to use the girl to steal people's souls.

As a Catholic myself, I'm a big fan of Catholic-themed horror, and I was intrigued by the premise of this movie.  While we've seen plenty of films about hauntings and possessions, I can't think of a single one about apparitions of the Virgin Mary.  It's a really unique angle, so I was interested to see how the film would handle the topic.

But unfortunately, The Unholy does a really bad job with it.  It takes just about the most boring approach possible to this refreshing idea, the characters are almost all just bland stereotypes, and the scares are super generic.  On top of all that, the story is also a very thinly veiled attack on the Catholic faith, so as a Catholic, I had an especially bad time with it.

To see what I mean, let's take each of those elements one by one, starting with the story.  Going into the movie, I was expecting it to set up a mystery about whether or not the girl's apparitions were genuine.  I thought it would start out with the girl experiencing her visions and gaining followers, and we wouldn't know right away if she was legit.  Maybe it would give a few subtle hints here and there that something wasn't quite right, but it would let us stew in the mystery for a good while before letting us know the truth.

That could've made for a great story, but it's not at all what happens.  Instead, the film completely kills the mystery before it even starts, sapping the narrative of any intrigue it might've had.  From the very first scene, it tells us that there's nothing divine about these apparitions.  "Mary" is really just an evil demon or ghost, and the movie reminds us of that multiple times before any of the characters realize it.  So instead of getting a compelling narrative that keeps us guessing, we get a very by-the-numbers story that unfolds pretty much exactly how we expect it to.

Now, a lot of good horror movies have very pedestrian plots, but they make up for it with great scares and likeable characters, so this doesn't automatically mean The Unholy is a bad film.  But unlike those other movies, this one doesn't have anything to balance out its boring plot.  Take the characters, for instance.  Like I said before, they're mainly just bland stereotypes, so you can easily pigeonhole them after about five seconds of screen time.  For example, there's the conman journalist who ends up not being so bad after all, there's the unscrupulous bishop who's willing to hide the truth just so his people will believe, and there's the seer who simply accepts that her visions are divine without any question whatsoever.  Those are all just variations of standard character types we've seen a million times before, and pretty much everybody else in the film is like that too.

Next, when we turn to the scares, they're just as bad as the characters.  The Unholy suffers from the same problem that a lot of mainstream horror has these days: it has one decently creepy scene, but other than that, it's pretty much all jump scares.  The movie doesn't do anything new or creative in this area, so in addition to being a bad movie in general, it's also a bad horror movie in particular.

And finally, we have the very thinly veiled attack on the Catholic faith.  Once the characters realize that the girl is actually communicating with an evil spirit and not the Virgin Mary, they still call this spirit "Mary," so the film becomes all about the dangers of praying to Mary, believing in Mary, being devoted to Mary, and a bunch of other things that sound a bit too similar to genuine Catholic devotion to the mother of Jesus.  It's like the movie goes out of its way to describe this demonic pseudo-spirituality in almost the exact same way that we Catholics describe our devotion to Mary, and after a while, the message becomes too obvious to miss.  I'm not normally one to find anti-Catholic sentiment in movies or TV shows, but even I can't deny that its present in this film.

All that being said, I have to be fair and let you know that The Unholy isn't entirely terrible.  There is one good thing about it: the acting.  While the characters were bland, several of the performances (especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the deceitful journalist who ends up being the hero) were good enough that I at least enjoyed seeing the actors act.

But in the grand scheme of things, that wasn't nearly enough to save The Unholy.  While it may not be the worst movie I've seen all year, I definitely don't recommend checking it out.  The bland characters, uninteresting story, generic scares, and anti-Catholic theme outweigh the good things many times over, so if you're looking for some exciting new horror, you won't find it here.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

New Movie Review: Come True

Dreams are scary.  The laws of physics and logic normally go out the window when you're dreaming, so just about anything can happen.  Dream monsters are unencumbered by the limits of the real world, and as movies like the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise make amply clear, that unpredictability is fertile ground for horror films.

That's why I was intrigued by Come True.  It's a sci-fi horror film about a teenage runaway named Sarah who enrolls in a sleep study, and while the study begins innocently enough, it soon turns into a real nightmare (pun totally not intended....I promise) for her and the scientists involved.  It originally premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival last year, and it was released to the general public through VOD on March 12.

This movie is a pretty slow burn, so you don't get any real horror until about the halfway point.  Before that, you get a few hints that the people behind the sleep study may be a bit more sinister than they appear, and one particular thing they do seems to have a very adverse effect on Sarah.  But other than that, the first half relies entirely on three elements: the atmosphere, the acting, and the creepy dream imagery.  Thankfully, none of these let you down.

To begin, Come True is soaked in a dreamy atmosphere, and most of it comes from the ambient score.  In some ways, the music reminded me of It Follows and Mandy, but it's far from a carbon copy of either of them.  It's an almost constant, hypnotic drone that matches the story perfectly and makes you feel like you're watching a dream unfold right before your very eyes.  It's hands down the best thing about the film, and it has an eerie, enchanting quality that glues your eyes to the screen and makes you want to keep watching.

As for the acting, it's pretty solid.  None of the characters are super developed, but the performances make them all quite enjoyable to watch.  In particular, actress Julia Sarah Stone does a really good job as Sarah.  She hits all the emotional beats perfectly, so you care about her character and you genuinely feel for her when things start to go south.

And finally, there's the creepy dream imagery.  Every once in a while, the movie shows you Sarah's nightmares, and they look like a cross between an alien landscape, a dungeon, and a gothic mansion.  I know that  probably sounds like total nonsense, but if you watch the film, you'll know what I mean.  It looks really cool, and while it has some familiar features, they come together in a way that's unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Those three elements continue into the second half as well, but when you hit the halfway point, the movie begins to pull back the curtain and show you what's really going on.  At first you only get a glimpse into the truth, so you're still not quite sure what the sleep study is actually about.  All you know is that the movie is building towards something sinister.  After that initial glimpse, the story gets weirder and weirder, and the anticipation for the big reveal just grows and grows.  You really want to find out what's going on with this shady sleep study, and the film does a great job of immersing you in the mystery and keeping you intrigued until the very last shot.

But with that final shot, Come True lost me.  I can't say much without spoiling it, so I'm going to be really vague here.  The end answers all your questions and explains everything that's been going on, but it does it in the worst way possible.  To be fair, from a certain point of view, it actually makes a lot of sense, so I can understand why they went that route, but it's still a terrible narrative decision.  And that's a real shame.  I was really enjoying this movie up until then, but the ending just ruined the whole thing for me.

So at the end of the day, would I recommend this film?  It's tough to say.  On the one hand, everything up until the very end is really good, so regardless of how I felt when the credits began to roll, it's still a mostly fun ride.  On the other hand, that final shot was enough to make me not like the movie overall, and it's tough for me to recommend a movie I didn't like.  So take that for what it's worth and make up your own mind about whether you think this film seems worth your time and money.  Personally, I have no desire to ever watch Come True again, and I'm putting it down in my book as a bad movie.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

New Movie Review: The Vigil

When you think of demon movies, what comes to mind?  For me, it's crosses, priests, and holy water, and I bet most people would give similar answers.  That trio is a staple of the demon subgenre of horror, and for good reason.  The overwhelmingly vast majority of demon films are based in Christianity, so it makes perfect sense that they would involve Christian characters and symbols.

But when was the last time you saw a Jewish demon movie?  While they do exist, they're very few and far between, so there's a really good chance that you've never even heard of any.  Well, that's about to change.  The Vigil is about a Jewish man named Yakov who's asked to keep vigil over the body of a deceased member of the Orthodox community he recently left, and in the course of the night, he realizes that there's a malevolent spirit in the house.  It originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019, and it was released on VOD and in limited theaters on February 26.

From the very first shot, this movie is super atmospheric, and while that atmosphere wanes a bit at times, it never goes away entirely.  In fact, it's the main source of horror in the film.  You get a few jump scares (but thankfully, only a few) and a bit of creepy imagery, but on the whole, this movie is more about tension and atmosphere than anything else.

For example, when Yakov begins his vigil, he turns away from the body, sits down, and puts his earbuds in to listen to music.  The camera then lingers on him with the corpse lying motionless in the background, and the tension immediately goes through the roof.  You expect the corpse to start moving, but you don't know when (or even if) it will, so every second of this shot is agonizingly suspenseful.

It's a pretty intense scene, but it's just one of many tricks The Vigil has up its sleeve.  The movie also employs some subtler scare tactics, and they're just as effective.  There are a few times when you think there's nothing supernatural going on, but then something unexpected happens and you suddenly realize that Yakov has been interacting with the demon all along.  Those scenes are particularly creepy because they catch you off guard, and all the fear you should've been feeling the entire time hits you in that one moment when you realize what's truly going on.

But the horror isn't the only thing this movie has going for in.  In fact, it's not even the best thing about the film.  We've all seen plenty of movies with effective scares and creepy atmospheres, but there are two other things that set this one apart and make it one of the must-see horror films of early 2021.  First, we have the character of Yakov.  He's admittedly not super developed, but actor Dave Davis makes him really likeable and sympathetic.  In the course of the movie, you learn that he's experienced some pretty heavy trauma in his life, and Davis's performance brings that out quite well, making you empathize with him and root for him to defeat his demons (both literal and metaphorical).

And secondly, there's the Jewish culture that saturates the film.  It's a very refreshing change from what we normally get in this subgenre, and it makes for a unique story and a unique dynamic between the characters.  Sure, it still has a lot of the tropes that we recognize and might even expect in a demon movie, but it's different enough that it doesn't feel like we've seen this same story a million times before.

If you couldn't tell, I really liked this movie.  It has a great atmosphere, some really effective scares, a likeable main character, and a unique cultural background that you just don't see very often in horror.  It's not perfect, but it doesn't have any major flaws.  Probably my biggest issue with the film is that it has a couple of really cliché jump scares, but that's not nearly enough to outweigh everything it gets right.  So if you're on the prowl for some good new horror, I definitely recommend that you check out The Vigil.  I don't know if it'll make my top ten list come December, but for now, it's one of the best horror movies of this very young year.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

New Movie Review: Saint Maud

If you follow new horror releases beyond the big mainstream hits, you've almost certainly heard of Saint Maud.  It's the newest movie from A24, the company behind films like The Witch and Hereditary.  It was supposed to come out last year, but when the pandemic hit, its release became an absolute mess.  At first, it just got pushed back a few months, then it was removed from the release schedule entirely for a while, and it finally had a limited theatrical debut back on January 29 of this year.

And when I say limited, that's probably a bit of an understatement.  I live in one of the biggest movie markets in America, and this movie wasn't playing at a single theater near me.  The closest I saw on Fandango was one theater about an hour away, so I doubt many people got to see it on the big screen.  Instead, the vast majority of us had to wait until February 12, when it came out on VOD exclusively through the premium channel Epix.  It's a really obnoxious release strategy, but if you get a free trial subscription to Epix and then cancel it before they start charging you, you can actually watch this movie for free.  So it's not all bad.

But enough about the saga of Saint Maud's release.  Let's get to the actual movie.  It's a psychological horror film about a nurse named Maud who recently converted to Catholicism, and she's assigned to care for a dying cancer patient at the person's house.  Her newfound faith compels her to try to save this patient's soul, and she's willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

Just like every other A24 horror movie, Saint Maud is very atmospheric and very slow.  You need to be a very patient viewer to enjoy this one, so if you're looking for scares every few minutes, this is not the film for you.  In fact, for most of its runtime, it plays more like a drama than a horror movie, so this movie is definitely not for everyone.

However, if you're the kind of horror fan who would enjoy something like this, then you'll be richly rewarded.  For one, all of the technical aspects of the film are spot on, from the acting to the cinematography to the directing.  I especially enjoyed Morfyyd Clark's performance as Maud.  When the movie begins, she plays the role with a perfect combination of strong confidence and fearful timidity, so you totally buy her as a recent convert who completely believes in her faith but who is still very much haunted by the fact that it makes her different from everyone around her.  Then, as Maud's mental state deteriorates throughout the film, Clark also portrays every step along that path just as skillfully.

Secondly, the story is quite interesting too.  I don't want to give away any of the movie's secrets, so I'm going to be vague here.  There's more to this film than just the official plot synopsis (which I summarized above), and once it begins to deviate from that, it becomes really intriguing.  Maud isn't just a psycho religious fanatic who does bad things in the name of her religion.  She struggles with her faith, and seeing that struggle and the way it ties in with her overall mental and emotional condition is really fascinating.

In a similar vein, I also really like the unique way this movie portrays Maud's Catholicism. A lot of horror movies feature psycho religious fanatics, and they give the impression that their villains are supposed to accurately represent their religions (even if that's not actually their intention).  Take the 1976 classic Carrie, for example.  Any Christian worth their salt will tell you that Carrie's mother doesn't represent authentic Christianity, but it sometimes feels like the movie itself doesn't understand that.  However, Saint Maud is different.  The way I see it, Maud's psycho fanaticism is supposed to be a deviation from authentic Catholicism.  I think the whole point of it is that Maud practices some sort of bastardization of the Catholic faith rather than the real thing, and that makes for a much more interesting story than just a straightforward "religion is bad" kind of morality tale.

Thirdly and finally, we have the horror.  This movie doesn't have any real scares until the very end, but it has some creepy stuff to hold you over as you wait for the "good stuff."  In particular, Maud's extreme religious experiences and practices are quite unsettling, and the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) of them stick with you well after the credits roll.  Then, when the big finale comes and you finally get some legit scares, they hit hard.  I obviously don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that the last few scenes of this movie are well worth the wait.

So if you're looking for something new to watch this month, then look no further.  This is the best movie of the year so far.  Granted, that's not saying much in February, but I think it still counts for something.  I really liked this movie, and if you're the kind of horror fan who would enjoy an extremely slow, character-driven story with a creepy undertone and a hard-hitting ending, then you need to watch Saint Maud right now.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

New VOD Movie Review: The Reckoning

The Reckoning is a new movie from director Neil Marshall, the guy behind behind Dog Soldiers and The Descent, two of the best horror movies of the 2000s. It premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival last August, and it was released to the general public on February 5 on VOD.  It's about a woman named Grace who's unfairly accused of witchcraft in 17th century England, and she suffers incredible torture at the hands of a witchfinder who hopes to wrest a confession from her.  It got mainly negative reviews out of Fantasia, but I was still looking forward to it.  I'm always interested in new projects from good horror directors, so I wanted to see this one for myself.

And when I finally saw it, I totally understood why it got such bad reviews.  While I think Marshall did a great job directing it, the story is just really weak.  He elevated it as much as he could and made it watchable, but on the whole, it's not a good movie.

When it starts, you see Grace living happily with her husband, but then he dies tragically when a plague sweeps the land.  She struggles to make ends meet for her and her baby, and one day, her landlord tries to take advantage of her situation and coerce her into having sex.  She refuses, so in return he accuses her of being a witch.

This part of the film is actually really good.  Grace is a compelling character, her story is interesting, and Marshall saturates the whole thing with a creepy atmosphere that keeps your eyes glued to the screen.  In particular, there are a few times when Grace has some supernatural visions or hallucinations, and those scenes are really cool.  The visuals are all spot on, so as I was watching it, I began to get my hopes up that I would actually end up liking this movie.

But then after Grace gets arrested and the witchfinder begins to torture her, the film takes a very steep nosedive in quality.  It still has some cool visuals and a great atmosphere, but the story just doesn't hold up.  Her trial takes place over a few days, and every day is basically the same thing.  She's tortured, the witchfinder tries to get her to confess, and she has a weird hallucination or dream about the devil and/or her dead husband.  Then they do it all over again the next day, and after a while, it feels like a boring, messed up version of Groundhog Day.  I completely lost interest in it, so I even had trouble enjoying the few things this part of the movie does well.

Finally, after a few days of this narrative monotony, the story changes gears one last time, and something a bit more interesting happens.  I don't want to spoil it in case you still want to see it, so I won't mention any specifics here.  Suffice it to say, the third act is better than the second, but that's not saying much.  While it maintains the good visuals and atmosphere, it's too little too late.  It's not nearly good enough to redeem the movie, so by the time the credits rolled, I was just really happy to be able to write this review and move on with my life.

All that being said, I do have to admit that I'm glad I watched The Reckoning, and not just because I can say that I saw it for myself and made my own judgment about it (although that's definitely a huge part of it).  Like I said, Neil Marshall elevated this bland story as much as he could, and I did genuinely enjoy the visuals and the atmosphere.  But I still can't recommend this film.  It's not a complete waste of your time, but the bad far outweighs the good here, so unless you just need to see this one for yourself, I'd recommend giving it a pass and waiting for something better.