The Reaping

1 out of 5 stars
BLADES OF GLORY Swank hopes to cut and run.
BLADES OF GLORY Swank hopes to cut and run.

Time Out says

1 out of 5 stars

Ten plagues get a digital face-lift in this Louisiana lulu of a fear film, but the essential Talmudic question remains: Why is God (i.e., Joel Silver) so angry with us? The Reaping doesn’t really have a clue, so it pitches out every possible culprit: Exorcist-style career-woman godlessness, an Omen-style evil kid (Robb), Carrie-style menstrual panic. What does any of this have to do with plagues?

That last question, actually voiced in a fit of antiscreenwriterly pique by our heroine, Hilary Swank, sums up the randomness. (Evidently, Oscars don’t pay the bills.) Swank plays Katherine, one of those hardheaded scientist types that exist in movies only to run from the terrors they so calmly dismissed. Katherine may have dozens of “miracle” debunkings to her professional credit, but the movie has much stronger ammunition: fruit-punch-red bloody swamps and hordes of computer-generated locusts. Arriving in fictional “Haven” not long after her two front teeth, Swank finds the supernatural odds stacked against her.

But isn’t that the point of The Reaping anyhow? After all the diversions—the engaging black sidekick (The Wire’s Elba), the boogah-boogah cameo by Stephen Rea—the movie just wants to put the fear o’ God back in you. Problem is, even in the midst of the swarm, you know the effects are canned, just like the sermon. Religious horror will always be with us, but if The Reaping connects, it’ll only be because we sinned on the ticket line. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf



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