Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Premise: Katherine, a former Christian missionary turned miracle debunker (Hilary Swank), is at a loss to explain why a river in a rural Louisiana town has turned to blood. Strange occurrences continue, resembling the plagues of the Biblical story of Exodus, forcing Katherine to reevaluate her faith.
What Works: Swank’s character is given an effective back story that provides the character with a little more motivation and weight than if she were just a secular humanist.
What Doesn’t: The most consistent feature of The Reaping is its ability to take elements that start out fairly strong and ruin them through stupid storytelling decisions. The flashbacks to Katherine’s loss of faith after the death of her family in Africa begin with strong visuals and emotional weight but this is destroyed when the flashbacks are used for cheap scares. The film’s opening is quite strong because of its ambiguity, and the film could have been an intelligent inquiry into the line between faith and rationality in the vein of Carl Sagan or Rod Serling, but instead The Reaping lets too much go too early, killing the mystery and the tension. In the conclusion, the film goes for a reversal of expectation, but this move makes the film worse, because it opens up all sorts of plot holes and comes across as a cheap gimmick that allows Swank’s character to get out of her ethical and philosophical dilemma without any cost.
Bottom Line: The Reaping attempts to be a strange combination of The Ten Commandments, The Wicker Man, The Omen, and Rosemary’s Baby but the result is more like End of Days. While this film is not as annoying as The Exorcism of Emily Rose or The DaVinci Code, it is still fairly stupid and won’t do much for anyone except those who think the Left Behind series is great literature.
Episode: #138 (April 22, 2007)