Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
When a little girl is blamed for a river turning blood red and a dead brother, a Investigative scholar is called in to do some C.S.I.: Louisiana and give a rational explanation. When shen and her partner, it seems God or possibly some demon child is mighty unhappy with the townsfolk and before you can say 'seen this before', 10 plagues start to cause some havoc.
Is it good movie?
I’m not particularly fond of the religious horror sub-genre. Aside from the classics such as The Exorcist and The Omen which are fantastic, most of them do not work for me. I don’t get too frightened by things of that nature because I’m not a very religious dude. So with that in mind, and the fact that so many people felt ripped by The Reaping, it’s an odd thing to say but I kind of liked it. The story of a little girl Anna Sophia Robb who seems to be bringing the wrath of God on a little town called Haven ended up being a pretty entertaining b-horror flick. Which is partly where many found fault, bringing the question, why would a two time Academy Award winner do some religious B-horror flick with a budget. Yes, Hilary Swank plays a Investigative scholar asked to investigate a few happenings in this small town that sound a whole lot like the plague issue that Egypt had a few years ago… like somewhere in 1500. Well, first off, it looked like a whole lot of fun and maybe she digs the genre. I’ve certainly seen Best Actor and Actress winners do much worse than this… can you say Catwoman? But I liked what she had to offer her, and it was a pleasure to see her do something less tragic.
Obviously, Hilary has talent, and she also shares screen time and mucho chemistry with Idris Elba who plays a colleague of hers. He is a believer in all God’s miracles and such and he helps investigate “miracles” along with Hilary’s Katherine Winter. He desperately wants to show the world the great power that the almighty has. While Katherine on the other hand, used to believe, until she led her husband and young daughter to a violent death bringing the word of the Lord to a tribal village. Since, she has lost her faith, and is always able to debunk the mysteries surrounding biblical mischief. Thus, when a local man in Haven (played by David Morrissey asked her to help prove that the little girl is not responsible for God’s wrath, we give witness to a bunch of creepy plague problems, including one kick ass scene with locusts. Director Stephen Hopkins does a credible job keeping things interesting enough and letting his actors play along. This is one of the best looking b-movie’s I’ve seen in a long time.
Now, I do realize they myriad of problems with the film. First off, I knew exactly what was going on in the telegraphed style the way the film was delivered. There are moments I felt like telling the screen, ‘OKAY! I get it already!’. This is not a surprising turn of events, I called it from early on so there is nothing shocking or new here. I also really wondered why they even put Stephen Rea in here at all. His scenes did not fit with the rest of the movie, and should have been taken out completely. It was one of those annoying moments to “explain” to the dumb audience what was going on. Someone should have called for re-writes. And as for scares, they definitely held back much of the time, playing it safe even with a sex scene in for good measure. There is no crucifix masturbation scene here. But there are a few plague images that work.
Yet, as God as my witness (or whatever), I had a good time watching what he hath wrought. It isn’t a fantastic piece of genre filmmaking, yet it wasn’t the Satan’s spawn of a mess that many people felt it to be. It was a fun B-flick that looked way better than most of these cheesy flicks, and it also had an Academy Award winner. Who knows, if I had checked this out in the theatre, I may have been a little more pissed off, but on video… a fun way to kill a couple of hours.
Video / Audio
Video: Joy of all joys, if you love Full Screen, you can watch it here. But if you are like most people, the Widescreen transfer was very good and with rivers of blood, it damn well better.
Audio: Locusts are crunchy. And they sound like they bite pretty hard thanks to the terrific 5.1 Dolby Digital.
As for the extras, this is as basic as they come. It includes four by-the-numbers featurettes that give little insight to the actual making of the film, but they sure make Hilary look like a really cool chick.
First and best is Science of the Ten Plagues (15:59) which explores the scientific exploration of what could have happened to make folks believe that God brought upon the Egyptians all those nasty and unusual attacks of nature. From the Nile turning to blood and a swarm of locusts, even the reasons why “all” their first born children and livestock were struck down. This should have been longer because it was quite interesting.
The rest are so basic, you could put them all together. We have The Characters (6:49), and you can guess what that is I’m sure. A Place Called Haven (4:52) which is interesting primarily because of the discussion of Hurricane Katrina hitting during filming, and yes, they were in Louisiana and many of the crew members lost their homes. Yet, this last for less than five minutes??? And finally, we get The Reaping: The Seventh Plague (1:07) which is just over a minute of locusts. There are a whole lotta bugs in this flick, but we get a one-minute look at them? Come on people!
And if you look for the fly in the Special Features menu, you can hear the actress who plays the Omen girl, Anna Sophia Robb read a story she was inspired to write during the shoot called “Back Seat Swamp”. Isn’t this an R rated movie? And one of the extras is story time? I’m not going to be mean, she is a young girl and good on her for writing “horror”. But they added a few images to enhance the reading section so… have fun with this.
I get it. I know that The Reaping is a clichéd religious horror flick that has been done much better before. But still, I feel that there were a few good elements via the always strong Swank and her partner in myth busting Idris Elba. I also feel that the film looked great and it was an easy watch. Yeah, it’s basically a B-movie with a larger budget that is as predictable as they come. But it’s still better than many of the other God/Satan horror films including some of the Exorcist sequels/prequels. It may also be easier to get non-genre fans to watch if you are desperate to hang with them and watch a horror flick. All in all, The Reaping is a fun waste of a couple of hours in front of the T.V. set, with popcorn and someone to snuggle (or whatever else you wanna do).