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Movie Review: The Reaping

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The movie you are about to see has no explanation, it has no warning, and after sitting on the studio shelves for over a year, now has been deemed the right time for it to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Following the attempts at editing room magic to make this a watchable movie, it was determined that the only time to release a Biblically themed horror film would be in the week leading up to Easter. Well, sure, Holy Week may be considered a good time to release a film like this, but it's too bad that the film devolves into a special effects-laden mess.

Hilary Swank stars as Katherine Winter, a researcher who specializes in debunking so-called miraculous events. This is demonstrated through an opening scene which serves no other purpose than to show her debunking a miracle. Soon after this occurrence, Katherine is visited by Doug (David Morrissey), a science teacher from the small town of Haven. He is seeking to enlist her help in solving the case of a blood red river. You see, the townsfolk believe that it is the start of the Biblical plagues, just like those that had afflicted Egypt. So off she goes, with her partner Ben (Idris Elba), to see what she can do to help out.

As soon as Katherine arrives in the tucked away little town, the plagues continue — falling frogs, dead livestock, lice, the whole works. Katherine is flummoxed as to the cause, while being concerned over calls from Father Costigan (Stephen Rea) warning her that there is danger ahead for her. As she and Ben work towards the scientific explanation for the plagues, everyone in town is pointing their finger at a young girl, Lauren (AnnaSophia Robb), who lives in the woods with her mother.

It starts out well enough, painting a portrait of a woman who abandoned her faith following the ritual sacrifice of her family during a relief mission gone bad. It was interesting watching her stick by her guns as she tried to figure out what was going on. The problem was that the further into the film you got, the more and more ludicrous it became. Stephen Rea's character is just around to make phone calls and add some exposition. I have to believe that he played a bigger part, but was left on the cutting room floor. The storyline stepped away from Katherine and her lost faith and into Satan worshippers, misdirection, and lies. Sure, there is a lot of substance that could have made a good movie, but it all just seems to be slapped together. No amount of editing room magic could save what Stephen Hopkins hath wrought.

I understand what happened, but it is a shame that it went down like it did. At some point it is as if they hit fast forward — everything comes at a frenetic pace as all is revealed. It moved so fast that, at first, I was unsure as to what exactly happened, as it was just sloppy exposition. The climax comes in a special effects-filled hail of fire, while our heroine flees for her life. I never felt any type of concern over the events on the screen, there was no heart, and I didn't care to root for anyone.

Bottom line. Poor story, mediocre acting, and an overall feeling of sloppiness plagues this film. It definitely had the potential to be good, but it fails to take the right steps in that direction. You would be better served checking out Rosemary's Baby or The Omen (original or remake) for your thriller needs.

Not Recommended.

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  • Steve Carman

    The special effects of the movie are strong. The locusts are everywhere and predatory. Give it credit for at least two seat jumping scares and an absolutely beautiful Hillary Swank. After you’ve given credit where it is due (and this movie deserves more credit than the casual critic deems necessary) then your own lack of imagination can pick it apart to your heart’s content. After all biblical plagues don’t get a scientific explaination every day. In this movie they do. Critics don’t mention that because it would require admitting there is more to this movie than they are willing to imagine. I thought it deserves better imaginative critique than this…

  • Daniel Kapa

    Critics suck.