"Even the Egyptians didn't deserve a plague like this."
The most striking image in “The Reaping” is a repeated shot of unusual looking wind chimes blowing in the breeze. By continually panning his camera to the chimes, director Stephen Hopkins (“The Ghost and the Darkness”) unknowingly admits that the rest of his movie isn’t worth watching.“The Reaping” is a supernatural snoozer that owes an overwhelming debt to scarier movies like “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby.” At times, screenwriters Carey and Chad Hayes appear to be plagiarizing the page numbers from the previous scripts.
Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank picks up some extra grocery money by playing Katherine Winter, a former pastor who has now devoted her life to debunking bogus miracles.
A science teacher (David Morrissey) from a small Louisiana town requests her services because the local river has turned into a liquid that resembles blood. We know Morrissey is British in real life because he’s the only actor in the film who tries a bayou accent. Needless to say, it’s unconvincing.
Because of a ghastly recent murder the town has been afflicted with the same plagues that are described in Exodus. It’s obvious the plagues are supposed to be real because having them be the result of human endeavor would negate all the producers spent of special effects. Besides, the only time fictional stories reveal that supernatural events are phony is in “Scooby Doo” episodes.
All the other clichés are out in full force. Katherine has an African-American sidekick (Idris Elba) whose death is practically faxed to audiences ahead of time. There’s also a creepy little girl (AnnaSophia Robb) who looks like she lost the auditions for “The Ring.”
All of this might have been forgiven if the plagues themselves were suitably imposing. Year after year people ignore the clunky dialogue in “The Ten Commandments” because director Cecil B. DeMille knew that audiences want eye candy that genuinely awes.
Hopkin’s visuals are curiously both heavy handed and anemic. When the frog plague comes into being, only a half dozen rubber amphibians plop from the trees. The music starts blaring as if to make up for how wimpy the plague looks. Where are the frogs from “Magnolia” when we need them?I will give the filmmakers credit for continuing their efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit. Doing so helped the Louisiana economy. Unfortunately, the filmmakers chose to release a film that deals with religious issues in a tawdry manner on the same week as Passover and Easter. Because “The Reaping” fails to address some important questions of faith and offers no thrills to speak of, it is entitled to no charity at the box office.