Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Reaping (2007)

Title: The Reaping (2007)

Director: Stephen Hopkins

Cast: Hilary Swank, Idris Alba, Stephen Rea, Anna Sophia Robb, William Ragsdale, David Morissey


So this is another film I’d completely ignored thinking it was going to be total boloney. Turns out it wasn’t; turns out The Reaping was actually quite the experience to watch! This is the kind of film in which bible prophecies start to turn true and characters that are unbelievers begin to question their beliefs. Is there a God? Is there a Satan? Or is it just a bunch of boloney and everyone is going nuts?

 Story revolves around Katherine Winters (Hilary Swank) a woman whose main purpose in life is going around the world proving how certain “miracles” are actually hoaxes, and how people’s religious beliefs can make them see things that have a perfectly plausible scientific explanation to them. She says that the only real miracle is that people still believe. One fine day Katherine meets Doug, a representative of the people of the small Bible belt town of ‘Haven’. He tells Katherine that a child in the town has been murdered and that the one responsible for this death is an evil Satan worshipping child who lives out in the swamps. You see, this is a town of god fearing religious folk and they all think the little girl is a heathen, a Satan worshipper who’s bringing forth all the death and destruction. Also, a nearby lake has turned into blood! Could it be the work of the little girl? Are the ten biblical plagues of the book of Exodus coming true? Katherine and her unbelieving ass head on down to the town of Haven to investigate.

Water turning into blood, not a good sing!

 This movie started off on the right foot for me because the opening sequence was shot in my country, Puerto Rico. They shot in the exact same place that Rob Marshall shot a small sequence for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), the fort of San Cristobal, which is a Spanish fort that the Spaniards built more than 500 years ago when the Spaniards came to colonize our island. Only thing is that in The Reaping, they made it look as if it was Chile. So anyways, this is where we first meet Katherine Winters: the unbeliever. She is there trying to prove that a certain “miracle” really isn’t one. This is a very a-typical kind of character that we often times find in films dealing with the supernatural; the proverbial unbeliever. And as in many, dare I say all films of this nature; the unbeliever will be taught a lesson! Unbelievers always end up realizing they were ‘so wrong’, which is something I don’t agree with of course cause unbelievers usually stay that way through out all their lives because they never see or hear anything that will make them believe in the supernatural. To me, the only place the supernatural becomes real is in films; and I enjoy films that deal with the supernatural precisely for this reason.

 In The Reaping, the supernatural events that come to life have to do with the ten biblical plagues of the book of Exodus. For those of you not in the know, the ten biblical plagues of Exodus where these ten supernatural events that God made happen so that the Pharaoh would let the  Hebrews go free (they were slaves to the Egyptians) so that they could go and worship their God in the dessert. But Pharaoh was such a staunch unbeliever that to him his gods were more powerful then the god of the Hebrews. To him, the God of the Hebrews was an unknown deity, for all intents and purposes, the God of the Hebrews did not exist. So he was all haughty, and he was like “I don’t know who this God of yours is and I’m not letting your people go!” So God decided to teach this Pharaoh a lesson in humility and sends the Egyptians these ten plagues. The ten plagues consisted of:

1-     Water turning into blood
2-     Frogs
3-     Swarms of Mosquitoes
4-     Lice
5-     Death of Livestock
6-      Boils on the skin
7-     Hail and Thunder
8-     Swarms of Locusts
9-     Total Darkness
10- Death of the Firstborns

 Of course, the cool thing about this movie is watching these ten biblical plagues come to life. My personal favorite was the swarm of locusts! If you don’t like bugs you’ll probably have a hard time watching those scenes! To me they were very well achieved. By the way, the filmmakers behind this film are firm believers in “blowing the audience away in the end”, because the ending is all kinds of spectacular. Lots of visual effects were involved in the making of this film, director Stephen Hopkins has always been a very kinetic type of filmmaker. I remember I always enjoyed his films because he played with angles and colors a lot. Examples of this are films like Predator 2 (1990) and A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), both films that are very strong on style and visuals. On The Reaping, the filmmakers used many computer effects to tell their story and enhance mood. For example, in this film, shadows move, the skies look stormy and unnatural, colors change. Director Stephen Hopkins used computer effects to alter mood and feel very effectively on this one. Something I enjoyed about this film is that the effects didn’t make the film; they are not the stars of the show. The film is not shallow in that sense. Rather, the effects help the story move forward, which I thought was awesome. Stick all the way to the end for an awesome visual effects show!

Finally, I ended up enjoying this movie a hell of a lot more than I expected. Aside from the fact that it’s a movie meant to enhance your belief in God and all that (not something I’m all about) it also addresses the issues of evil religious leaders which is a favorite theme of mine in movies. Far too many evil religious leaders have been responsible for the death of their followers, and I think it is an evil that needs to be mentioned and discussed, as a way to warn people against the dangers of following some power hungry mad man. This movie conveyed all these themes effectively, while at the same time managing to make God and all his supernatural powers real. And it’s even an effective horror film. So it’s a movie that can please both the believer and the unbeliever, which is a plus in this kind of film for me. I hate preachy movies, and this is not one of them.

 This film was released during holy week of 2007, I guess to capitalize on all the god fearing Christians going to the movies on that week, searching for a film that would bring their beliefs to life. And they found it with The Reaping, the movie made a profit. I only wish we could have seen the sequel, the ending leaves everything open for another film. The cast is amazing, Hilary Swank is looking all sorts of beautiful on this one! We get an awesome supporting cast, Stephen Rea plays a priest who knows all about the plagues, Anna Sophia Robb plays the mysterious little girl quite effectively. We even get William Ragsdale (Charlie from Fright Night) playing the sheriff of the town! Though I didn’t recognize him at all, the guy has changed so much since his Fright Night days! So we got a solid cast to round things out. The film went through a tough time during it's production because right smack int he middle of filming, hurricane Katrina hit, which stopped the production for a week. Filmmakers considered filming in another state, but decided the residents of Louisiana would need the income the film would generate, so they stayed. The Reaping is a great slice of supernatural cinema, recommend it if you enjoy this kind of film.

Rating: 4 out of 5 

Hilary Swank next to the director of the picture, Stephen Hopkins


Unknown said...

I dunno. This film really didn't do it for me. I liked the premise, thought the execution was pretty cool but maybe I had problems with Hilary Swank's performance. I really didn't buy her in the role and, to me, it felt like she was a bit miscast in the role.

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

I caught snatches of this a few months ago when it was screened on television here in the UK. It didn't draw me in at all. I found it to be extremely boring. I'm liking the SUSPIRIA banner Franco :-)

Franco Macabro said...

@J.D. Really, I kind of liked her in the role, in fact, I thought she was looking great in it as well.

@Shaun: I guess it's the kind of film you have to watch all the way through to really get the full effect. It gets better and better as it progresses, the ending packs a punch!


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