The Reaping – ½✩ ( out of ✩✩✩✩✩ )
Boy did that suck, but what do you expect from the director of Predator 2? The Reaping is a complete waste of time, money, talent, and film and earns ½ a star simply because it’s too easy to dismiss and completely forget (unlike a NO STAR film which can make you angry for years).
Hilary Swank stars as Katherine Winter, a former orthodox missionary turned college professor and debunker of religious phenomena who lost her family and faith years before. Called into investigate a small Louisiana town, Katherine and her assistant (Idris Elba) discover odd events such as a river turning to blood, dying livestock, lice, and locusts. It seems like the Biblical plagues are being reenacted, and the town is blaming an evil little girl (AnnaSophia Robb) whose family lives on the bayou.
You can guess the story from here. Katherine must rediscover her faith and take on the agents of the devil and stop the events before all evil is made manifest. The problem is, despite what’s at stake, it never seems that important, or interesting, or spooky, or entertaining, or suspenseful or thrilling. In fact the film makes almost no impression at all. It helps to know the recent tv spots are promoting it as a film that doesn’t make any sense or have an explanation. Well, give them points for honest advertising.
The plot of the evil demon child is hardly new (hell, The Omen was just remade last year!) and the film liberally borrows from more horror flicks than we have space here to mention.
Yet with all this evil, the film is one of the biggest bores of the year. The plagues, which are the main events of the film, are particularly forgettable. The river of blood is shot in such a way that it actually looks kinda pretty. The rain of frogs, all twelve of them – gee, did you run out of funding?, looks pathetic especially to anyone who’s seen Magnolia. These are frogs falling from the sky! You think that would inspire some kind of response from the audience other than indifference.
Nor is the moral conundrum of killing the child to save the world given the weight it deserves. We simply don’t care what happens as the film keeps undercutting itself with convenient plot twists that take the choices out of the characters’ hands. And the film makes the cardinal mistake of giving away too much too soon. If only the townspeople’s ignorance and fear was developed and an alternative to the girl’s possible possession was considered!
The film will be remembered only, if at all, for the waste of Hilary Swank who I’m assuming was blackmailed into doing this. Or is she possibly still paying penance for that awful Black Dahlia performance? Throw in Stephen Rea in a ridiculous role of a Catholic priest whose pictures burst into flame and he puts them in random order to create a “sign” of the devil and doom to come (they can also make a balloon, a donkey, and a hand waving the film’s creators finger at the foolish audience, amonst other things), and you have to shake your head at the level of ridiculousness here.
Trouble is, when you cast serious actors like this in a film this silly they can’t play it, and what might have been laughed of if it had starred Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff, just falls flat. That’s right folks this movie makes Alone in the Dark look like a cult classic. And you also get the casting of David Morrisey who with his last film is creating a niche role for himself in terrible movies. You can give The Reaping a pass; just knock yourself unconcious for a couple hours in a stuptifying and painful way and you’ll have roughly the same experience – and save ten bucks, too!
The Reaping is Rated R (for ridiculous) for violence, disturbing images and some sexuality, with a running time of 96 minutes.