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The Reaping
Hillary Swank can’t do movie magic all by herself
The Reaping
Hilary Swank Stars in "The Reaping".
OPENING WEEKEND: $13,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $41,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

July 28th, 2006: Ever since her family was tragically killed in an accident, Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) has battled against religious faith, including her own. The former Christian missionary has become a university professor and a world-renowned expert at refuting religious phenomena. When Doug (David Morrissey) approaches her to investigate events at a small Louisiana town that appear to have been struck by the ten Biblical plagues, she accepts the challenge. With everyone in the town pointing to a little girl named Loren (AnnaSophia Robb) as the source of the dark forces that threaten the community, Katherine’s investigation turns even more bizarre. As she begins to have difficulty explaining the occurrences with scientific evidence, she realizes that she may have to look deeper within herself and reclaim her faith if she is ever to understand the omens that surround her.

What to Expect: The screenplay is written by brothers Carey and Chad Hayes, who have mostly written for television in the past. Their only feature is last year’s formulaic horror film House of Wax. With The Blob and The Turning also in development, it becomes evident that formulaic horror films seem to be their forte. One shouldn’t expect The Reaping to break too many conventions either.

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Director Stephen Hopkins seems like a good fit for the cheesy material, if one hopes to see the script’s cheesiness preserved on screen. His credits include bombs like Predator 2, Blown Away, The Ghost and the Darkness, and Lost in Space. At least his contribution to the television series “Tales from the Crypt” is a solid preparation for the horror elements in The Reaping. Surprisingly, a couple of years ago, Hopkins had his first ever critical hit with the made for HBO biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. Although it represented much more eloquent and insightful work from the action director, it may have only been a temporary transition since it does appear that he is returning to more usual fare with The Reaping. While filming in Louisiana proved to be problematic due to Hurricane Katrina, Hopkins has had two-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank and Warner Bros. backing him up throughout the entire process.

With her two Academy Award victories for best actress, the recently divorced Swank is in rare company. That’s why it is a bit difficult to understand why she would choose this generic, potential flop of a horror film as one of her first follow-ups to Million Dollar Baby. The entire situation is very reminiscent of Halle Berry starring in the horror flick Gothika after her Academy Award win and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly taking the lead role in Dark Water. I believe that these are all examples of attractive Hollywood actresses walking through doors they have opened with their individual Academy Award victories and, against their better judgments (or not), accepting the lead roles in cheesy horror films in exchange for big paychecks and wider publicity. The Reaping’s official poster definitely promotes Swank in an unusually sexy way for her, somewhat along the lines of those I Know What You Did Last Summer posters.

Swank is not likely to get any help from her supporting actors when it will be time to carry the picture. David Morrissey comes straight from the awful Basic Instinct 2 to provide a rather odd love interest for Swank’s character. AnnaSophia Robb takes on the Damien role as the eerie child that’s supposed to be evil incarnate. Some may remember the 12-year old from last summer’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Really, those are the film’s two biggest stars other than Swank.

Like Jennifer Connelly, I don’t think that Hillary Swank possesses the type of mainstream following that would help her carry a bad horror film to commercial success. As an actress she is highly respected, but does not hold the same celebrity status that a Julia Roberts or a Halle Berry does. Unfortunate as it may be, films with female heroines usually do not attract audiences the same way that ones with male heroes do. Most action or horror pictures are marketed toward males, who simply will not respond to a female heroine with welcome arms. When tired and wholly unrealistic end-of-times religious themes get thrown into the picture, it becomes even less intriguing. As with most Hollywood productions, The Reaping is likely to do itself injustice by playing out the satanic subject matter in a tone that borders on hokey. Little creepy children are easily one of those awkward staples that forever brand a picture ideal for mockery.

In Conclusion: I suppose the remake of The Omen did alright earlier this year so I expect The Reaping to make a similar run at the box-office. I suspect that the Christian themes will be handled from a relatively uneducated point-of-view that relies on movie clichÈs rather than knowledge of scriptures. As a result, this is going to be nothing but fluff – just a few jarring scares and a platform for some moderately entertaining special effects. I wouldn’t bank on The Reaping, especially since Hillary Swank just does not belong in this sort of film, nor do I believe that she can carry it. The upcoming Brian De Palma thriller The Black Dahlia features her in a much more appropriate role.

Similar Titles: The Omen, Village of the Damned, Gothika, An American Haunting
April 5th, 2007 (wide)
October 16th, 2007 (DVD)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Stephen Hopkins

Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, AnnaSophia Robb, Stuart Greer, William Ragsdale, Stephen Rea

Total: 80 vote(s).

Horror, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for violence, disturbing images and some sexuality

96 min





The Reaping at RottenTomatoes.com

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