Aside from the odd trailer I saw for this movie, I didn’t know a lot about this movie going in (that seems to be a recurring theme in my reviews). I knew that is starred Hilary Swank, the filming was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina, and it was a religious-themed horror movie. Oh, and it had the standard “evil child” in it that seems so prevalent in horror movies today (as seen on the nifty cover art). I will say that, aside from a couple beefs I have with the movie, it turned out to be better than I expected. With Halloween around the corner, this may be a good movie to rent for a few scares on All Hallows’ Eve.
Investigative scholar Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) is a debunker of modern “miracles,” bringing scientific light to superstition and fraud. But events in tiny Haven, Louisiana, defy even her expertise. There, the 10 Biblical Plagues seem to be reoccurring. And the more she seeks answers, the more she questions her own beliefs. Two-time Academy Award-winner Swank headlines this electrifying Dark Castle Entertainment production that reaps locusts, frogs, a river of blood and more – all to eye-filling, fear-inducing, heart-probing, must-see effect.
As I said earlier, I knew very little about this movie before going viewing it. I saw a few trailers for it and that was it. And the trailers did seem pretty interesting, I’ll admit. I’m a sucker for religious-themed horror movie and this was no different. Plus, it was headlined by Swank, which in itself guaranteed some level of quality.
As Winter, played by Swank, moves through the plot, we discover her somewhat clichéd background and the reason why she has all but given up on religion. It turns her out her family was killed while they were on a mission to help some citizens in an underdeveloped country. Things go south and Winter finds herself in grieving and with a reason to debunk religion, and, as the synopsis shows, she’s been debunking them left and right. Personally, I was truly hoping for some scientific explanation behind what we see in the movie. Particularly, I was interested in the river of blood and if that was, indeed, just some sort of fluke of nature.
As the movie unraveled, it became clear that this movie was heading in a decidedly different direction. Once Winter enters the town of Haven, things seem . . . a bit out of place. It’s a heavily religious Southern town, but things aren’t exactly what they seem. Little character quirks we see in the movie actually pay off when the big twist of the ending is revealed. It appears that the people there aren’t as saintly as they seem, which all leads up to a fire-heavy finale, and my major beef with the film.
I don’t want to ruin the double-twist ending, so I’ll be as vague and spoiler-free as possible. So, if this following paragraph doesn’t make any sense, my apologies. First off, I found the revelation of the town’s population, toward the end of the movie, to be both interesting and frustrating. Interesting in that it was a genuine cool twist, but disappointing in how it was handled. It turned into a somewhat clichéd affair of screaming old ladies and knife-wielding creeps. A lot more could have been done. Secondly, the last twist in the final seconds of the film? I wish that was actually developed more, or at least given a nice epilogue follow-up, but I suppose it serves adequately for a final shocker for the audience. I promise this paragraph will all make sense once you see the movie.
Aside from those beefs, I think it’s at least worth checking out. It’s not the best religious-themed horror movie, but it’s much better than some of the recent ones that have come about (I’m looking at you, The Exorcist prequels). Plus, there’s some great acting from the cast, particularly from Swank and her sidekick that she drags along to Haven. Great chemistry between the two. And, once the first twist is revealed at the end, you can’t help but appreciate the acting job of some of the minor characters up to that point, and how it sells that particular twist. Not bad, I have to say. Not bad.
And, with that aside, how is the DVD? The film itself is presented 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, along with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. Extras include a “Science of the Ten Plagues” feature that investigates the 10 plagues and reveals if there is a scientific explanation, another featurette on the cast, a six minute featurette on the locations of the film, a “Reaping: The Seventh Plague” feature, and an Anna Sophia Robbs’ Scary Story Easter Egg.
While The Reaping has a couple problems, it does offer a few legitimate chills, and that in itself deserves at least a Rental. Plus, without doubt, it’ll likely stir some conversation once the end credits roll. The subject matter can be controversial for some people, without a doubt, and the ending will either cause you to throw your arms up in shock or disappointment. Throw in some nice bonus features and you have a nice DVD worth, like I said, at least a rental, possibly a purchase. It’s a worthy movie to add to the pile of horror-themed movies to watch this Halloween.
The Reaping arrives on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray on Oct. 16th, 2007.