Novelist and filmmaker Andrew David Barker’s long awaited critically acclaimed directorial debut A Reckoning has finally hit Amazon Prime Video in the United States recently and we had a chance to chat to him about it and ask him about his influences.
Film Regions International (FRI), the production company behind the groundbreaking documentary My Amityville Horror has licensed the film for video-on-demand platforms in the American territory. FRI had also been an early supporter of the film after its initial release in 2010 when the film had received a great deal of critical acclaim, however disappointingly, the film ended up being shelved for the better part of the last ten years.
Now that the film has finally received the light of day, it is very fitting and poignant considering the atmosphere with recent world events. The film tells the story of a lone man (featuring a powerful performance by Leslie Simpson, best known for Dog Soldiers, The Descent), trapped and imprisoned in a barren, desolate landscape. His only companions are a village of straw people with which he converses with as neighbors and friends; he even teaches straw children at the local school. Yet, this anchor, this way of habitual living, is about to become unraveled in frightening and disturbing ways.
“I’ve always been drawn to end of the world stories, right from an early age” says Andrew David Barker “The thought that all we’ve achieved, all we’ve created as a species, could go away is something that has never left me. And I’m not alone. The 20th century is littered with post-apocalyptic fiction, from George R. Stewart’s 1949 novel Earth Abides, to I Am Legend, through to Mad Max, visions of what this world will be like once civilization falls, once the power has gone out and the thin veneer of society is torn away, are rich and plentiful. The end of the world has always been a preoccupation of mankind. I wanted to create a film that added to the long list of titles that depicted what life will be like After.”
“A Reckoning is a (post!) modern day Robinson Crusoe, my ode to human spirit and all its dark recesses. This film is as micro-budget as you can get, yet, I had a large vision for it: I wanted the wide open spaces, and the decay and dirt, and the extreme weather to give what is essentially an internal, human story, a large cinematic canvas. This is my lament for our species, a tale of how the fabric of our day to day existence, the trivialities that we take for granted, could (and possibly would) haunt us in a world emptied. This film has had a long, hard road to see the light, but now, in 2020, I think A Reckoning feels more relevant than ever. This truly is the right time for our little film. Worryingly.”
Below Andrew talks about his favourite horror film:
“I first saw George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead when I was nine years old. It was my dad’s pirate copy (uncut, no less!) and my parents had full knowledge of this viewing. They both loved horror films and thought Dawn was more of a comedy than full blown horror so they were happy to let this very imaginative nine year old watch it. Very fine parenting this was. Well, it was the mid-80s. Things were different then.
From its opening moments the film pinned me back to my seat. Never had I seen such a red (and pale blue) display of visceral horror in my short life. To this day – some thirty-five years later – I still have reoccurring nightmares involving the shuffling, decaying dead. It has never gone away, and never will.
What that film did to my long gone nine year old self was several things. It scared me very badly, obviously; it upset physically, as some of it made me feel sick; it excited me – the truck sequence was better than The A-Team (high praise in those days, believe me. Come on, I didn’t have many other points of reference then); it made me laugh, in its very comic booky way, and finally, and perhaps the thing that has stuck with me the most down the years, it was the first piece of art that introduced to me the notion that all this could end. Society, I mean. That we could have a full and total collapse and be thrown back into a new dark age. The darkest age. The end of humanity.
This has never left me.
Dawn of the Dead shows the tipping point. The splinter point from where humanity still has a chance of regaining control and resetting order, but instead, chaos reigns. Things spiral out of control at a rapid rate and the world falls. The human factor in its many forms – our hubris, arrogance, squabbling, even our love and compassion – all allows the zombies to overrun us very quickly. It’s a complete system breakdown, and our protagonists – Fran, Peter, Roger and Flyboy – decide to run from it. It’s a matter of survival.
This aspect of Dawn of the Dead is the main reason I return to it again and again. It sparked in me a lifelong interest in the idea of full societal collapse, and led me on a path to seek out more post-apocalyptic films and books, from Mad Max, to I Am Legend, through to The Stand, Earth Abides, and The Road, among many, many others. But back then, to a nine year old, the idea that my cosy little life in the midlands of England could come to an end terrified me. And still does.
All this led to my feature debut, A Reckoning, a true lone man story about how we would hold onto the old world, how we’d yearn for the normality of day to day life. Almost grieve it. Just like the protagonists, and even the zombies did, in Romero’s vision.
A Reckoning is my end of the world story, and it seems worryingly timely right now as our world increasingly begins to resemble Romero’s splintering into chaos. I just hope we make the right choices and do not tip over into our own reckoning.
Ah, we got this man, we got this by the ass!”
A Reckoning film is currently available for rental or purchase on Amazon Prime Video and subsequent VOD platforms will follow soon.