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The Reaping   D

Warner Bros. Pictures / Village Roadshow Pictures

Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Writer: Carey W. Hayes, Chad Hayes (story by Brian Rousso)
Cast: Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, AnnaSophia Robb, Stephen Rea, William Ragsdale, John McConnell.

Review by Rob Vaux

From the Book of Kael, Chapter 3, Verses 1-64.

And thus it was in the land of sun and boob jobs that a producer did go unto the mountaintop and spake, saying "Create unto me a horror movie like unto The Omen, with Biblical quotes and Old Testament wrathfulness couched as scary thrills. And let it feature an imbecilic storyline, punched up with silly characters and cheap scares attained by playing loud noises unexpectedly. And bring unto me Hilary Swank, holder of the twin golden statues, to appear in it. For her talent doth please me and her pedigree can cover up for whatever appalling goofiness may transpire onscreen." Thus he spake, and it was so, and he called it good. Ere long, The Reaping did appeareth in multiplexes throughout the land.

And when the people saw what the producer had wrought, they beat their breasts and wailed, gnashing their teeth and rending their cloth, crying, "What is this aberration that thou has placed among us?"

And the producer said, "It is a terrifying thriller with religious undertones, like unto The Exorcist. Behold: Swank portrays a woman of God who has lost her faith, and now travels the world disproving miracles. Then a small town in Louisiana is visited by the Biblical plagues and the local math teacher (David Morrissey) begs her to come. Come she does, though her heart is full of coldness and logic, for she hath lost so much in her life that she cannot acknowledge the miraculous freakiness of dead frogs falling from the sky. But the townsfolk believe it is a work of supernatural evil caused by a creepy little girl (AnnaSophia Robb), and wish to slay her in their mercy. For yea, who among you can deny the scariness of creepy children, and the placement of one such as this in my feature promises much screaming and jumping in seats."

When the people heard this, they rolled their eyes and cried, "Fool! Dost thou not know that creepy children have cursed our screens in numbers too great to count, and by now, we find them marginally less terrifying than navel lint?"

But the producer's heart was hard, and he said, "That matters not, for yea, director Stephen Hopkins hath placed in The Reaping numerous examples of loud noises at surprising moments, the results of which cannot help but fill thy souls with dread."

The people then furrowed their brows and replied, "Such loud noises are naught but cheap sell-outs, for Hopkins hath not the strength to conjure real scares from such a clunky and ungainly story. And yea, the script by Carey and Chad Hayes is nonsensical in the extreme -- filled with both bad dialogue and foolish contrivances such that even idiot children will become easily bored by it."

But the Lord hardened the producer's heart, and he said, "That mattereth not, for the religious overtones are filled with haunting implications about God's purpose for us, and thus will inspire great chills in this secular age."

And the people cried, "Thine implications are simplistic and filled with holes, causing far more confusion than fear. For yea, the necessities of scary stories are undone by the fact that thine plagues do nothing especially scary, save prepare the table for a big climax whose outcome resembles that of a car wreck rather than the clever twist which thou had so clearly intended."

But the producer remained unshaken, saying, "That doth not make The Reaping bad. For behold, it has created a grand debate about science and faith, aided by the brilliant acting of She Who Twice Claimed Oscar Gold and a bevy of loyal and talented underlings."

Then the people curled their lips, and said, "Dost thou not know that thy film will offend believer and nonbeliever alike? For not only is secular science portrayed as foolish and ignorant, but so too are the religiously devout townsfolk rendered like unto chicken-fried knuckleheads without the sense that God gave the average hermit crab. And even were such portrayals worth sitting through, the performances rendered by thy cast (including Swank, whose talents be mighty indeed) acquit them little in the eyes of their family and friends, whom they must surely face after appearing in this dreck."

But still the producer persisted, saying, "The Reaping is a fine motion picture, for it doth feature cool CGI renditions of the Biblical plagues, which I and my minions can easily use to market the film on TV and billboard ads."

And the people asked, "Were there not actually ten plagues written of in the Bible? Thine efforts feature only nine."

Then at last, the producer conceded, saying, "'Tis possible that the tenth plague was consigned to the cutting room floor, for yea verily, shit doth happen."

And the people replied, "You can say that again."

And lo, they turned their backs on the producer, and did spend their money on Grindhouse this weekend instead. And the producer was left to wonder what evil spirit had possessed him to greenlight this movie in the first place, and his star was left to pursue projects more worthy of her gifts. Thus was The Reaping cast aside and forgotten for, being stinky in our eyes, it could not hope to ever walk among the righteous. We pray that it remains so, forever and ever. Amen.

With apologies to, um, God.

Review published 04.06.2007.

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