Thursday, January 31, 2013

THE REAPING (2007) movie review

The Reaping (2007) d. Stephen Hopkins (USA)

When a river in a nearby bayou town turns red, professional debunker Swank is brought in, only to discover the God-fearing inhabitants suspect a poor family of practicing devil worship, bringing ancient plagues to their idyllic community.

Boasting a star with two Oscars (Hilary Swank) and moneybags producers (Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver), can I be blamed for hoping that this might be an intelligent religious-themed frightfest along the lines of Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen or even Stigmata? Unfortunately, although it borrows elements from these classics, The Reaping fails to create the psychological tension and believable characters that made them so worthwhile and enduring.

The sibling screenwriting team of Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes (who also wrote the surprisingly decent 2005 House of Wax) attempts to jam in all ten Old Testament plagues, Swank’s losing-her-faith background, a massive conspiracy plot, a romance, and a twist ending in a little over 90 minutes – needless to say, things feel a bit rushed and flattened, with nary a shiver raised. (I also hereby declare a moratorium on blank-faced, prepubescent “evil-looking” Caucasian kids.)

Director Hopkins deserves some credit for bringing a heaping helping of Southern Gothic atmosphere to the proceedings and for creative use of wind chimes (though their increasingly eerie sounds are offset by John Frizzell’s intrusive and telegraphing score), but his CGI-heavy, slam-bang ending fails to obscure the fact that there just isn’t much there there. Stephen Rea, David Morrisey and Idris Elba fill out the supporting cast, with William (Fright Night) Ragsdale showing up as the local sheriff.

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