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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.89%
Worth A Look: 7.69%
Average: 6.59%
Pretty Bad38.46%
Total Crap: 37.36%

9 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Reaping, The
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by Erik Childress

"What God Hath Wrought Stephen Hopkins?"
1 stars

Since breaking into film as The Next Karate Kid, Hilary Swank has had an amazing career. Amazing in how fractured and schizo it is. Never in her days training with Mr. Miyagi did we ever believe the phrase “two-time Oscar winner” would proceed her name unless she was mentioned in the same sentence with Jodie Foster. But she is just that. And a deserving one for her performances in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby. While giving competent supporting turns in films such as The Gift and Insomnia, her severe miscasting in The Black Dahlia, The Affair of the Necklace and the incompetence of The Core qualify her for the discussion of Oscars we wish we could take back. The Reaping is going to throw another heretic onto that fire.

Swank is Katherine Winter, an ordained minister who has...wait for it...lost her faith thanks to a family tragedy in Africa. She now spends her days teaching at LSU and traveling to different parts of the world debunking claims of miracles. Katherine has no problem explaining bleeding walls and preserved corpses, but why is her face being burned off all the pictures belonging to Father Costigan (Stephen Rea), her former partner in good will? When Doug (David Morrissey) shows up from a small Louisiana town seeking answers for a blood-red river, Katherine and her assistant, Ben (Idris Elba) go to investigate.

Small enough not to have any motel lodging, the town seems to exist as a breeding ground for paranoid Bible thumpers. But their greatest fear these days is not the Almighty himself (although he is on their radar.) It’s Loren McConnell (Annasophia Robb), a 12 year-old girl who was present at the death of her brother coinciding with the poisoning of the river. One-by-one, the plagues of Exodus fall – although not in the exact order (despite confirmation by the so-called experts in the film) – and Katherine not only acknowledges a potential message at hand but that this quiet little girl may be the messenger.

Religious-themed thrillers immediately put themselves at a disadvantage amongst its viewers since they exist primarily for one reason – to make us believe. If the phenomena being portrayed isn’t going to be unmasked as the real deal at some point then why are we watching? And on the rare occasion when it turns out to be something other than a higher power, we’d be disappointed anyway. There lies the limbo though; the potential that The Reaping squanders to recruit new parishioners. The “lost my faith” shtick is as old as the Garden of Eden itself. So why couldn’t Swank’s Katherine been allowed to do her job and provide some doubt within both Catholics and Atheists alike? Probably cause that’s a bit lofty a conception for the writers of the House of Wax remake.

No, instead they take us down a brimstone path of idiocy and outright boredom punctuated by director Stephen (Lost In Space) Hopkins audible-enhanced soundtrack which goes to eleven every time a character sees more than one object in their field of vision. BLEH! BAH! BLOO! EVERY time Katherine looks up or moves her corneas an eighth-of-an-inch too close to something the imaginary seat buzzer goes off and she may or may not be within her own consciousness. Maybe Hopkins recognized this as the only way to frighten anyone in his audience since the plagues themselves, without the context of their evolution or meaning, are just so Old Testament. Oooooh, the dark. Flies are pests. The nightly news has some livestock story every few months. Fire-branded hail brings up happy thoughts of Flash Gordon. Paul Thomas Anderson gave us the ultimate frog storm. South Park just made lice hysterical. And a river of blood, when you stop to think about it, is admittedly kinda cool. The only one getting its just due are those dang locusts (what we now refer to as the PC-friendly “secadas”) who fill nearly every frame of their featured sequence in an impressive display of CG terror. But once the film spills its truths, the surrounding circumstances of this invasion will be drowned with greater questions.

The character of Loren is clearly the anomaly that needs to be worked out over the course of the film. Just what we needed – another creepy catatonic child. That catatonia though will be the subject of much stupefying debate when all is said and done. Is Loren simply left with an untreatable trauma? Why else would she be the only one standing still in a swarm of locusts unless her evil nature summoned it? Does she truly know what she is or does that realization occur at the same time as ours? With all the potential for theological introspection, these are the most important questions the film can muster up on its way to bridging the finales of The Wicker Man and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And with due respect to Robb (the fine young actress from Bridge to Terabithia and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory), she’s going to draw comparisons to her counterpart, Dakota Fanning, with this role. I even heard suggestions that Dakota should have had the part. Frankly though, Miss Fanning doesn’t need to be typecast as a young backwoods girl walking around with blood running down her leg that all the town folk want a piece of so they can give new meaning to the Deep South. That would just be tasteless.

I’d take tasteless at this point compared to boring which is all The Reaping is when Swank isn’t monologuing the dissection of purported heavenly wonders. After those two scenes it’s just a lot of people doubting their own eyes while looking for evidence that the Blue Oyster Cult may have been in town. (Check the album cover of A Long Day’s Night.) If I could give Miss Swank some advice. You don’t have to take every role that Sandra Bullock turns down. I have nothing to back up that Miss Bullock turned down The Reaping the way she did Million Dollar Baby, but if she was willing to take such dreck as Premonition on faith, The Reaping would have been right in her wheelhouse.

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originally posted: 04/05/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

10/17/17 brian Rational explanations don't mean God didn't do it. But He didn't do THIS. 3 stars
9/14/17 morris campbell no bad 3 stars
9/30/09 matt this movie made absolutely no sense 1 stars
6/10/09 CTT Predictable, lowbrow horror 2 stars
10/02/08 Rene I liked the movie, you should think before you act! 5 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! 5 stars
5/03/08 Patrice Liked the movie..loved the windchimes. How can I get one? 5 stars
4/11/08 Holli I'm trying to find the whale wind chime..loved the movie. 5 stars
11/11/07 Suze Love the wind chimes! Not the best movie I've seen but effective for what it was. 4 stars
10/29/07 Pam Enjoyed the movie- very creepy- cool old house & I want the fulgurite chimes. 4 stars
10/23/07 Daniel found it to be spiritually conflicting and the science of it was aloofing 4 stars
10/20/07 David L. Stone I WANT TO KNOW WHERE I CAN GET THE WIND CHIME!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/20/07 action movie fan could have been better steals too much from the ten commandments--weak movie 2 stars
10/18/07 Pamela The chimes are made of FULGURITES and prisms. You have to make them yourself. 4 stars
10/16/07 Beau Pretty freaky if your religious! its a dark develish film which really scared me, spiritual 3 stars
10/10/07 L Cole Movie sucked.Llooking to buy wind chimes also.Not found on ebay. Any suggestions? 1 stars
9/24/07 Hey Amanda! Amanda, the chimes are made of Fulgurite. You can buy it on ebay. 4 stars
6/19/07 Valerie Carmichael Yep, Stephanie, Hilary Swan could make taking a dump a class act, but THIS is STILL garbage 1 stars
6/14/07 Vincent Ebriega B-apocalypse film that didn't scare me that much, but it's tolerable and watchable. 3.5/5 3 stars
6/09/07 Stephanie Throckmorton What to say?? - Hilary Swank can be a class act even when given garbage to work with. 1 stars
6/08/07 Ruby Spinel Was Lauren an angel or a demon? Never mind - she isn't credible as either! 1 stars
5/17/07 Lane It was much better than I had expected. Wind chimes, where can I get? Please tell me. tks 5 stars
5/06/07 topebrown7 The movie was a seious dissapointment can't believe i spent over an hour of my life 1 stars
4/30/07 i don't like you america sucks, religion sucks, and you're all fucking idiots! 1 stars
4/28/07 Jennifer best part of that movie was the chimes, second on wanting to know where to get those chimes 1 stars
4/26/07 Amanda I WANT TO KNOW WHERE I CAN GET THE WIND CHIME!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/23/07 Kylekylester FX are pretty good, script's got the right dose of smartness & reflection; effective scares 3 stars
4/22/07 victoria i really didint like it and some parts i didnt understand , like why kill the girl? 2 stars
4/19/07 The Critic This movie was good this article over exagerates and the author should be shot 5 stars
4/13/07 Douglas movie is weak.But there are many scientists who are ministers 2 stars
4/10/07 Ole Man Bourbon Michael Bay's "The Exorcist." 1 stars
4/08/07 Meagan I liked it for the most part... 4 stars
4/07/07 the wizz what a terrible way to spend a movie budget! 2 stars
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  05-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 16-Oct-2007



Directed by
  Stephen Hopkins

Written by
  Chad Hayes
  Carey W. Hayes

  Hilary Swank
  David Morrissey
  Idris Elba
  Annasophia Robb

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