Review: The Reaping Could Be The 11th Plague
by Josh Green
April 4, 2007
The Reaping is Hollywood's latest attempt to scare religion into people by resurrecting the 10 plagues that God used to convince the Pharaoh to let Moses lead his people out of Egypt. The film relies too much on old gimmicks and offers nothing new or exciting, resulting in a uniquely disappointing experience.
The film opens with Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) debunking many religious phenomenon all over the world. She gives a scientific explanation for each occurrence and leads the audience to ponder if they are watching a sequel to The Da Vinci Code. But faster than you can say "ya'll", Katherine is called to a small southern town to investigate yet another mysterious happening. After meeting the disturbed town's people, she discovers that the 10 plagues are spreading quickly through the town. Meanwhile there is a somewhat unexplained subplot involving a young girl named Loren McConnell (Anna Sophia Robb) and her involvement in the river near the town suddenly turning into blood. Mayhem and plagues ensue, and Katherine comes to discover the ultimate truth behind the madness.
When all is said and done, The Reaping isn't a bad film, it's just stupid. The film is assembled horribly, connecting narrative information in a way that is a little confusing when it shouldn't be. There are sudden flashbacks which have no coherent place in the film. Anna Sophia Robb plays a little girl who is creeping out the town's people. Do we really need another movie with a creepy kid? Anna Sophia is too cute to be scary anyway, and her character unfortunately doesn't do anything but stand and point at things, almost just as Nic Cage did earlier this year in Ghost Rider.
The special effects in the film are actually impressive. The biggest achievement being the final climactic confrontation involving Hilary Swank and some hail fire. Alas, you can't make a good movie from special effects alone, which is why The Reaping can't present itself to be the smart religious thriller that it really wants to be. The Reaping seemed to be cursed ever since I first heard about it at last year's Comic-Con. The panel at the convention was not well executed, and the film's release was pushed back by almost seven months. Now the movie is opening against Grindhouse, which is sure to take most of the target audience away.
While The Reaping isn't terrible, the film suffers from clichÃ© plot points and a puzzling structure. The writers should have pushed the envelope and have had something interesting or controversial to say about the religious influences on paranormal experiences or small southern towns. Instead, nothing new or creative comes from Hilary Swank's agnostic revelations. A film without a message is like a piece of art without a purpose.
Sudanese people are depicted as having sacrificed this missionary's family and then in the end the character calls them a weak, godless people (or at least the perpetrator but the message is pretty clear). i'm getting so tired of hollywood's/this general misrepresentation of people in africa/asia/s. america as either being backward savages or alternative spiritual gurus. While it is true that the Louisiana townspeople are depicted as human sacrificing devil worshippers (a point that someone should also probably address), they are however shown as the exception, the deviation in a society that american viewers hopefully have a close and intimate knowledge about. With the continued perpetuation of these outrageously antiquated and bigoted stereotypes of people from poor, usually developing, nations as something so negative and extreme, I cannot help but fear that the reason this continues to take place is that people, having seen this repeated so many times, have begun to believe them. What is the movie trying to say? That we, as kind-hearted Americans, intervene on the behalf of halfwitted developing nations for their own good, only it's their backwardness that is to blame for our failure?
Ann on May 3, 2007
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