The Reaping is the type of film that makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Had I have done that before watching this film, I would have only had to listen to this film instead of watching it, which might have been more enjoyable. Given the overall quality of the writing, maybe not. It still wouldn’t make any sense, and I might have missed out on one kind of enjoyable scene, so I take back the gouging of my eyes part. I only wish I could take back watching this movie.
Our plot focuses on a woman named Katherine (Hilary Swank), and her assistant, Ben (Idris Elba). We open with her disproving a “miracle.” People are sick, and they think it’s God’s doing. She finds hazardous waste buried by some company, and she decides that the waste was making the people sick. There’s a slick transition to her explaining this to a classroom full of students. It turns out, Mrs. Skeptic is a college professor. She has left the church, and has debunked over 40 miracles in the last five years. Ben is still a churchgoing man, which would make his chosen profession seem odd.
That’s actually brought up at one point. Ben is asked something to the extent of “Why do you try to disprove ‘miracles’ if you believe in God?” This moral dilemma might be interesting, but apart from that one time, it’s not touched on again. The plot continues when a man named Doug (David Morrissey) comes to the college and asks for Katherine and Ben’s help. He lives in a town called Haven, and just a few days ago, the town’s river has turned completely red. Sounds like a mystery! So, the two miracle-busters head to Haven to figure out just what’s wrong with the river.
Before you know it, the plagues in Exodus — most of them, anyway — have started to come true (mostly) in the order that they’re presented in the Holy Book. Frogs rain down from the sky, children get lice, the cows act weird, and so on. The locals believe that a twelve-year-old girl named Loren (AnnaSophia Robb) is to blame, as she found her dead brother at the river and was also present as it turned red. She lives in the wild, presumably because her mother doesn’t care what happens to her. She also acts kind of creepy.
Oh, right, Stephen Rae is also involved, although he never comes into direct contact with any of our main characters. He gets the first scene in the movie, in which he sees pictures burned for seemingly no reason, and the marks that the fire leaves end up being some sort of emblem. Of course, that’ll matter more later. He basically exists to tell Katherine that she should be careful — a warning that she neglects.
The Reaping puts us through several twists as it progresses. That is, assuming you don’t see them all coming as none of them are surprising in the least (and after they occur, the film has to flashback to show us why they happened — as if we don’t already know). It wants us to think it’s more clever than it actually is. “Everything that happened earlier matters,” it wants to say, but in reality, not much does and only key sequences (which you’ll have no problem remembering) do.
In fact, when you look at The Reaping from afar, you become embarrassed for it. It thinks it’s just so surprising and clever, but in reality, it’s neither. It’s just a mundane horror with no real scares, no atmosphere, and no mystery. It’s odd that the film would be released with such an ego, especially considering that it sat on the shelves for quite a while after it was completed. Why it ended up being released in April and not October or January, I’m not quite sure.
I mentioned in the opening paragraph that there was one kind of cool scene. That comes from the locust plague, although even it is too long and ultimately loses purpose. It’s not scary, but it is fun to see nameless people being swarmed by CGI locusts, especially when some of them look so terrible that the film become laughable. There’s another awful special effects sequence involving blood. You’ll know it when you see it — that is, if you ever see it. I recommend not doing that.
It’s surprising that a talented cast would both be involved in this production and phone-in their performances. It’s like watching a high school play performed by nihilists. You wouldn’t know that Swank has two Oscars by watching this movie. You would be confused as to how she (and the rest of the cast members) even get jobs. It’s bad all around. Even if they would have attempted camp, The Reaping might have been saved. But they’re all so glum and lifeless, as if they’re all zombies or something. This kind of (not really) gets explained away with the supporting cast, but it doesn’t help the main guys, nor does it make for an enjoyable watch.
The Reaping is not enjoyable, except for the scenes where it’s either too trashy or terrible to take seriously. It has bland performances, poor special effects (especially for its $40 million budget), a lack of scares or jolts, and a nonsensical plot. This isn’t a good film any way you slice it. There isn’t a reason I can think of to watch The Reaping. If you can come up with one, you very well might spawn Satan yourself, trying to convert people into a cult dedicated to watching this movie. But probably not. This is a terrible film with no reason to be seen.