(Long Island, NY) There are a lot of instantly forgettable films released into theaters nowadays. Movies that are neither good nor bad, movies that decline to stand out in a special or memorable way, lost in a vast abyss of mediocrity. In my humble opinion, this is the very worst fate that can befall a motion picture. I’d rather sit through a movie so bad that it makes me want to wash out my eyeballs with a bag of thumbtacks than randomly drift in and out of consciousness because it failed to get me involved on any level whatsoever. Sadly, the latter is
the case when it concerns The Reaping, a new religion-themed horror movie starring 2-time Oscar winner and former Karate Kid Hillary Swank.
In a movie where the 10 Biblical Plagues of Egypt are visited upon a small southern town and actual heavenly Angels
are running around in its woods, the plot point I found hardest to swallow was that a hot young woman with a supermodel-caliber body was not only an ordained minister who had done missionary work in third-world countries, but also a college professor who is considered one of the lead experts in her field. Hey, I’m not being a chauvinistic pig and saying women aren’t capable of such things, but the ones I’ve seen that are sure don’t look anything like Hillary Swank.
Anyway, the name of Hillary’s character is Katherine Winter, and
while they never actually bothered to explain what exactly her field of expertise is, it apparently requires her to travel all over the world disproving alleged religious miracles. Her services are called upon by a man named Doug Blackwell (David Morrissey) while teaching at Louisiana State University- it seems that the river in his local town of Haven has turned to blood. Finding this to be odd behavior for a river, Katherine grabs her assistant, Ben (Idris Elba), and heads to the afflicted town.
Once in the midst of their investigation, Katherine and Ben discover that the town of Haven is being confronted with the very same plagues that were unleashed upon Egypt by God in the Biblical story recounted in the book of Exodus. Why the very same thing would be happening in modern times to a town of back wood hicks is anyone’s guess, but this seems to be the case and Katherine can’t come up with a logical explanation that doesn’t involve fire and brimstone. From this point forward, however, the film started losing me.
Did The Reaping lose my interest because it was unoriginal? Maybe. I want to avoid spoiling The Reaping for you, so all
I’ll say is that the main plot of the movie seems to be lifted almost directly from 2006’s The Wicker Man (itself an unoriginal remake of a 1973 feature). If you’ve seen that movie, then I’m sure you’ll notice the similarities- an evil cult lures an innocent to their town under the false pretenses, one of them involving a little girl believed to be in grave danger. Whoops, I guess I did spoil part of the plot. But believe me, you won’t care.
Did The Reaping lose my interest because the story was uninteresting? I suppose. It was presented in a somewhat disjointed fashion and the information that it actually managed to reveal during the course of the narrative was sketchy at best. It basically reduced The Reaping to a series of random events, tied together by repeated shots of Hillary Swank looking either confused, scared, or both. I thought it seemed that way because I was having a hard time staying awake (the movie was the cause of that malady), but a friend of mine sitting next to me managed to stay alert and was having the very same issues.
Did The Reaping lose my interest because the acting was bad? Not at all. Remember, Hillary Swank is a 2-time Oscar winner. She won her first for 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry, and followed up with her second for 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, so it’s not like she can’t act. In addition, her co-stars hold up their end of the bargain as well. But sadly, all their talents are wasted on this endeavor, as none of the cast has very much to work with in terms of the story or script.
In the end, good and evil collide and it all gets silly beyond words. Early in The Reaping my movie-going chum compared the character of Katherine to Indiana Jones, in that she’s a world-traveling adventurer who teaches college on the side. At the finale I noticed another similarity to Dr. Jones- this movie borrows heavily from the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where evil gets its fiery comeuppance directly from The Lord himself, only it’s not nearly as cool here as when it happened to the Nazis in Raiders.
So, The Reaping isn’t good, it isn’t bad- it’s just kind of…there. I forgot most of what happened by the time I made it to the parking lot of the movie theater, and that’s NOT what I call an evening’s entertainment. I really can’t recommend The Reaping, but there’s nothing sufficiently horrible about it that compels me to warn you away, either. However, if this movie sounded appealing to you despite the overwhelming indifference I’ve displayed towards it throughout the entire course of my review, I guess you must REALLY be bored. Go for it, then.