GBFF 2019 Review: Ruckus and Lane Skye’s ‘Reckoning’ (2019)

Earlier this year, a film called Reckoning (2019) popped up on my radar. I honestly didn’t know much about it, aside from the host of top-notch talent from the Georgia film scene attached to it. My ears perked up even more when the film took the Best Georgia Feature award at the Atlanta Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. Everywhere it goes, it draws considerable buzz, so I jumped at the chance to review it for its GenreBlast Film Festival screening this past weekend. The expectations were high, and it absolutely did not disappoint.

The breathtaking Appalachian scenery in Reckoning
Some of the breathtaking Appalachian scenery to behold in Reckoning

Reckoning takes place in the rugged hills of a small Appalachian community. Lemon Cassidy (Danielle Deadwyler: Jane & Emma 2018) is a farmer struggling to get by in the wake of her husband’s mysterious disappearance. Her husband was tasked with a dangerous mission as payment for a debt to Tommy Runion (Catherine Dyer: Stranger Things TV series), the ruthless matriarch of the oldest and most powerful family on the mountain. This dangerous objective, a task that could destroy a decade old truce between two families, now falls to Lemon, as Tommy has threatened to kill both her and her son if the job isn’t completed. Now, it’s a race against time and a fight for survival in the unforgiving mountainous backdrop.

Written and directed by husband and wife team Ruckus and Lane Skye, Reckoning is a gripping tour-de-force of genre filmmaking at its unparalleled finest. The premise is simple enough, but the execution is simply magnificent. All the acting here is stellar, but Danielle Deadwyler really brings down the house with a riveting, powerhouse performance. She brings tremendous emotional weight to the already heavy subject matter.

In addition to Deadwyler and Dyer, the bulk of the extraordinary cast and crew assembled for Reckoning was culled from the vast sea of talent in the Georgia scene. Some other familiar faces include actors Jayson Warner Smith (The Walking Dead TV series), Parisa Johnston (Allegiant 2016), Adam Boyer (Ozark TV series), and Allison Maier (Space Babes From Outer Space 2017 – read our review here, Jessie’s Super Normal Regular Average Day 2019 – read our review here), who served as both producer and actress. The ultra-talented multi-threat Jenna Kanell (Terrifier 2017 – read our review here, The Bye-Bye Man) worked as First Assistant Director as well.

Screenshot of Catherine Dyer and Danielle Deadwyler from Reckoning
Her southern charm is a bit deceiving. Tommy Runion is as cold as they come

The cinematography by Sherman Johnson is absolutely breathtaking. It certainly doesn’t hurt having the lush scenery of the picturesque mountains of Hiawassee, Georgia at your disposal, either. The rich musical score, handled by Brad Carter, is also enthralling. The folksy sounds lend themselves perfectly to the proceedings. There’s virtually nothing bad I can say about Reckoning. There’s such a singularity in vision and purpose here, and it’s delivered near flawlessly. This is a captivating, real human drama that is sure to aggressively tug at the heart strings.

When family is on the line, things get real personal in Reckoning
When family is on the line, things get real personal in Reckoning

Final Thoughts

Reckoning screened Saturday evening at 2019’s GenreBlast Film Festival, and not surprisingly, it sounds like it had an incredibly successful reception. It also took home 3 well-deserved awards in the process: Best Actress for Danielle Deadwyler, The Jury Award, and the Audience Choice Award. This is easily one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year. Reckoning is the kind of lightning in a bottle magic that happens when all the elements and ingredients align to make unforgettable movie majesty. It’s a dramatic thrill ride sure to keep audiences enraptured for the full duration. Reckoning is truly gripping, masterful filmmaking at its glorious best. Absolutely essential viewing.

About Matthew Solomon

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