The Reaping

The Reaping
You had me at Hell.
Updated: 04-04-2007

When it comes to Biblical-themed horror movies, I can't resist the temptation — and usually, I'm not disappointed. However, I've been burned in the past by some of the cinematic offerings from the revived Dark Castle Entertainment. Especially the 2005 House of Wax remake, which was produced by Joel Silver, and penned by twin screenwriters, Carey and Chad Hayes… and guess what? The same unholy trinity brings us The Reaping, starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank.


Swank plays Katherine Winter, a globe-trotting miracle debunker who meets her match (could it be… SATAN?!) in the gloomy swamps of Louisiana.


A former minister, Katherine has withdrawn from God and religion after losing her young daughter and beloved husband while doing missionary work in the Sudan; she now seeks rational answers through scientific investigation rather than prayer and faith. Katherine and her colleague Ben (Idris Elba) are called to investigate sites all over the world that display weeping statues, wall stains resembling saints, and palms that bleed, and in all of them they unearth logical explanations.


Things change when a small-town schoolteacher named Doug Blackwell (David Morrissey) seeks the team's help in figuring out why the 10 Plagues of Egypt seem to be manifesting themselves through one of his young students — everywhere Loren McConnell (AnnaSophia Robb) goes, tragedy follows. When Katherine and Ben arrive, the rivers have already been turned red with blood, and before long the horrifying countdown goes into full throttle.


Director Stephen Hopkins (many episodes of "24", the Emmy-winning Life & Death of Peter Sellers, The Ghost and the Darkness) does an decent job of keeping the pace breakneck, and he is helped out greatly by a cast of able actors who are more than up to the task. These aren't your usual devil movie nobodies, for sure. The horrific hits keep on coming in the form of blood, grue, goo, gunk, and much more — in short, if you're squeamish, The Reaping will put you off your feed for a few days.


The Reaping takes the subject matter seriously, and it is quite suspenseful (if not especially scary; the movie is definitely more thriller than horror); however, its impact is marred by too much dependence on CGI. While it's understandable that the Ten Biblical Plagues are pretty sensational and the showing of them in all their glory surely benefits from some modern tech, oftentimes the look is too phony and pulls you out of the pic.


The Reaping is better than Dark Castle Entertainment's more recent previous films (House of Wax, Gothika, and Ghost Ship), so here's hoping for more of the same in the future from the successful production company.


Please note: Perhaps fearing Grindhouse as the 11th Plague on opening weekend, Warner Bros. has moved The Reaping's release date up to Thursday, April 5, 2007.

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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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