Reviewed by GREG KING.
Reminiscent of films like The Seventh Sign, The Exorcist 2, and others of this ilk, The Reaping is yet another silly supernatural/horror thriller that draws upon religious hysteria, Biblical prophecies and ominous religious portents for a plot device.
The small town of Haven in Louisiana is suddenly being devastated by a number of Old Testament plagues, like rivers running red with blood, frogs falling from the sky. Local school teacher Doug Blackwell (David Morrissey, from Basic Instinct 2, etc) approaches university lecturer and former missionary Katherine Winter (dual Oscar winner Hilary Swank) for help in understanding these apocryphal events. Katherine has a reputation for debunking religious miracles, and is always able to come up with rational, scientific explanations for all of the phenomena she has investigated. Katherine is also estranged from her former mentor (Stephen Rea, wasted in a thankless role), whose warnings about imminent peril largely go ignored.
Katherine discovers that the strange events plaguing Haven are somehow linked to a twelve-year-old local girl (AnnaSophia Robb, from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Because Of Winn Dixie, etc), and her inbred family. In trying to save her from becoming a human sacrifice to appease the town, Katherine is also painfully reminded of her own daughter, who was killed by a witch doctor in the Sudan several years earlier.
The Reaping has been written by siblings Carey and Chad Hayes, who previously gave us the pointless Paris Hilton remake of House Of Wax, so you basically know what to expect. This is a cliched and unoriginal film that borrows liberally from much more effective and genuinely scary horror films like The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby. The Reaping is directed in a surprisingly detached fashion by Stephen Hopkins, better know for his muscular style with films like Predator 2, The Ghost And The Darkness, etc.
The special effects are disappointing, and the undoubted highlight is the computer-generated plague of locusts. It’s hard to see what an actress of Swank’s status saw in this hokey project. While her performance is solid enough, she is lumbered with a cliched character and given little to do of any real great emotional depth.