Swank reaps what she so-sos

The Reaping

on April 05, 2007 by Chad Greene
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Early on in The Reaping, professional nonbeliever Katherine Winter (Swank) boasts about her perfect record: 48 miraculous occurrences, 48 scientific explanations.

“The only miracle,” Katherine declares, “is that people keep believing.”

Unfortunately, the true miracle for The Reaping will be if moviegoers leave the theater believing the truly preposterous supposition its plot hinges upon—namely that an attentive Almighty would let such staggering tragedies as the Holocaust or the 9/11 terrorist attacks take place, but the comparatively paltry body count of cultists confined to a bayou backwater would enrage Him enough to go all Old Testament on their asses by unleashing the 10 Biblical plagues that convinced the Egyptians to let the Israelites go.

Sure, everyone knows that—recite it with me—“the Lord works in mysterious ways,” but the idiotic implications of the film's finale are enough to make believers and nonbelievers alike follow the example of the Pharaoh of Exodus and harden their hearts against what has been, up until then, a serviceable supernatural thriller.

As one might expect, Swank's performance is one of the film's few Samson-esque strengths. Once ordained, her Louisiana State University professor lost faith after her family was murdered because the beginning of their missionary work in Africa tragically coincided with the onset of a drought. And Katherine has the machete scars to show how close she came to also being sacrificed to whatever rinky-dink deity was responsible for rain in that particularly parched part of the world.

Understandably uninterested in reminiscing about old times with her former missionary mentor Father Costigan (Rea), Katherine won't listen when the priest calls to report that her face has been mysteriously burned out of a bunch of old snapshots—in such a way, no less, that the black marks form the shape of a sickle when spread out on the floor of his cloister.

It doesn't take a serious scholar of religious symbolism—or of horror flicks, for that matter—to know that this is not a good sign, especially after a resident of a small town that considers itself the “best-kept secret in the Bible Belt” asks Katherine to drop by and take a look-see at their river. The water of which has—as the posters promise—been transformed into human blood.

Initially, Katherine is sure that there's a scientific explanation for this 49th miraculous occurrence as well—until she meets the cultish clan that lives near the ruins of an ancient settlement that was wiped off the map by three hurricanes in three years.

While nowhere near bad enough to qualify as a plague visited upon the multiplexes of America, The Reaping is no perfect ‘10,' either. Perhaps the best way to put it is that the cast and crew reap what they so-so. Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, AnnaSophia Robb and Stephen Rea
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Screenwriters: Carey Hayes & Chad Hayes
Producers: Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, Susan Downey and Herbert W. Gains
Genre: Supernatural thriller
Rating: R for violence, disturbing images and some sexuality
Running time: 100 min.
Release date: April 5, 2007

Tags: Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, AnnaSophia Robb, Stephen Rea Director: Stephen Hopkins Screenwriters: Carey Hayes & Chad Hayes Producers: Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, Susan Downey and Herbert W. Gains Genre: Supernatural thriller
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