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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 Eugene Novikov

"What Hath God Wrought, indeed."
2 stars

Because of my affection for the genre, I hold out hope that someday soon, one of these religiously-themed horror films that pop up every couple of months will be coherent, perhaps even thoughtful, with a point of view. (The last such, by my count, was Stigmata.) THE REAPING makes some lurches in the direction of something substantial, but panders, in the end, to the audience's need for belief affirmation, and its (perceived) desire for a busy, fiery climax and plenty of ironic gotchas. Intellectually, the film is equivalent to the most invidious sort of religious faith: the sort that forms from a desire not to think.

Those not content to simply blow the movie off may latch on to The Reaping's bayou setting, and its persistent gestures toward some unspoken tragedy lurking in the recent past. In its most blatant concession to this bit of subtext, one of the plot's central locations (the epicenter, we later learn, of the evil harassing our protagonists) is a dilapidated ruin left by "a couple of hurricanes," but when the film's most potent image is a Louisiana river filled with human blood, I don't know how much more is needed. The screenplay is dodgy with respect to the origin of its Satanic goings-on, but the notion that they (or alternatively the townspeople's decision to scapegoat a young girl) are a response to you-know-what is an intriguing one. And at the end of the film, after all the twists and the tricks and the fire and brimstone, I think I could actually make a colorable case for the metaphor, not as the story's centerpiece but as an undercurrent: just as Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) turned away from God after losing her husband and daughter to an atrocity, so the people of Haven turned away after (I take it) seeing their communities devastated. They just turned a few degrees farther than Katherine.

I've said too much, but now I may as well relate the film's disappointing conclusion: if you turn away from God and do not repent, God will fucking kill you. You will die. The end. Katherine's healthy-seeming skepticism is thrown to the wind, as is the sinister fascination of Haven's lynch-mob bloodlust toward the "welfare mom" and her two kids on the outskirts of town. Ditto the theologically interesting notion of Satan turning the ten Biblical plagues against the faithful in order to (oh yes) create a diversion. Faith -- the Christian variety, natch -- is reaffirmed, as it must be, because otherwise God will smite you. The Reaping tosses out some tasty morsels, but ends up cowering in the corner, insisting it didn't mean anything by it.

So much for thoughtful; how about suspenseful or frightening? Here, too, The Reaping runs into some obstacles, not least the immovable object that is director Stephen Hopkins. Responsible (along with hackazoid Akiva Goldsman) for what stands as the worst Hollywood blockbuster of the last decade -- Lost in Space -- he at least manages to offer some strong, borderline-disturbing imagery here: his literal rendering of rivers running with blood, fish kills and all, is memorably gross, and he manages to use AnnaSophia Robb (adorable in Bridge to Terabithia) to creepy effect. But the opening scenes, set in darkness and shot in awkward close-up, are so incomprehensible that I panicked, realizing that I didn't know what I was looking at roughly 50% of the time. Once the lights turn on, Hopkins fares slightly better, though he continues to lean on lame false-alarm scares and to let serviceable but unremarkable special effects do the work of creating mood and atmosphere.

Much of the second act is devoted to an X-Files-like dynamic, with Katherine as the stubbornly scientific Scully and her partner Ben (Idris Elba) as the unflinchingly credulous Mulder. Some later revelations make the proceedings seem even more like an X-Files episode, only with more red herrings and booga-wooga horror maneuvers. It's actually okay, as these things go, and I only got bored when the storyline derailed an hour into the 99-minute film. But just as The Reaping never lives up to its genre's intellectual potential, nor does it tap into the fundamental creepiness of its conceit -- the ten plagues are a prime example of how freakin' scary Christian mythology really is, but the movie hardly knows what to do with them.

The film ends with a nasty little about-face blatantly stolen from a certain very well-regarded old horror film. By that point, it had long abandoned any semblance of sense, and I had abandoned hope that it would go anywhere remotely interesting. The Reaping, alas, is content with some cheap thrills and a lot of religious brownnosing.

Reprinted from

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originally posted: 04/05/07 15:15:09
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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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