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The Reaping

Reap it, Reap it Good

Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) is a disillusioned Christian missionary who’s commitment to Christianity has been supplanted by her commitment to debunking alleged religious "miracles". Right away it becomes all too clear that whatever transpires in The Reaping is going to involve some kind of reclamation of Katherine’s lost faith. Nothing serves as a catalyst for reclaiming one’s faith like a good, old fashioned reaping.

In short order, Katherine finds herself exploring her skepticism and lack of faith when she’s asked to investigate some bizarre happenings in a tiny town in Louisiana called “Haven”. Specifically, one of Haven’s rivers has seemingly turned from water into blood. It’s unfortunate that the local blood bank couldn’t tap into this new supply.

But, this is just the beginning. Not too long after the river turns into blood, cows at a nearby farm start acting strange, getting sick, and keeling over. Frogs fall from the sky, flies start buzzing about, and a handful of other really interesting events eerily reminiscent of biblical plagues start happening. Naturally, Katherine’s ability to debunk these odd events is tested mightily.

It’s very easy to draw comparisons between The Reaping and The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, The Seventh Sign, etc. There are various elements of each of the aforementioned that are borrowed, repurposed, or simply stolen from said films. This is not to say that The Reaping is entirely derivative or a poorly rendered film. But, there isn’t a heck of a lot in it that we haven’t seen before.

Setting aside the somewhat derivative nature of the film, Hilary Swank does a solid job of playing the disillusioned Katherine Winter. Katherine’s disillusionment with Christianity is totally believable given some of the horrific experiences she had while working as a missionary in the Sudan. As the film progresses, Katherine’s wavering from science is just as believable given the bizarre events she witnesses. This is no Million Dollar Baby performance, but Swank is decent. Swank is a likable enough actress, but is she ever going to appear in some lighter fare?

The performances of the other characters in the film are pretty thin. Idris Elba plays Ben, Katherine’s associate who helps in investigating the odd happenings in Haven. We know next to nothing about him with the exception of the fact that he experienced a “miracle” himself in the form of being shot multiple times and living. Elba does a fine job, he just doesn’t have much to work with.

David Morrissey plays Doug who initially asks Katherine to come to Haven to investigate the river of blood. He’s perhaps the most intriguing character in the film as it’s evident almost immediately that there’s more to him than meets the eye. The problem with Doug is that it becomes obvious he has ulterior motives and it’s not a question of “if” he’s going to pull a Jekyll/Hyde, it’s just a question of “when”.

Director Stephen Hopkins even throws in a “twist” a la M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. Unfortunately, the “twist” is not concealed well and isn’t really a huge shocker. So, what we’re left with in The Reaping is a fairly derivative, uninspired thriller that aspires to be more. But, the film is not terrible. The pacing of the film is consistent and there are a reasonable number of scares to keep one engaged. But, I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way for this one.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars