(1.5/5) horror, suspense
Despite my general aversion to horror films, my deep admiration for Hilary Swank compelled me to watch what I expected in advance to be a dog of a film. And a dog it was.
In The Reaping, Hilary plays a previously ordained minister who turned away from the cloth after her daughter was killed in an African mission. She has become a renowned expert at debunking miracles and scientifically explaining away plagues believed to be the work of the devil.
When a boy dies in the bible-belt, a young girl (AnnaSophia Robb), believed by the town-folk to be possessed by the devil, is blamed. Hilary is called in to solve the mystery when the river turns blood-red.
The usual horror movie devices: sudden movements, loud noises, visions, slow, ponderous, close-in camera shots, things going bump in the night; are predictably trotted out. The plot is surprisingly similar to the absolutely terrific Hot Fuzz (2007). I say ‘surprisingly’ because Hot Fuzz, a comedic action film, is very different from The Reaping.
Hilary provides a decent performance. But, her break-through performance in Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Oscar winning Million Dollar Baby (2005) performance are far better examples of her exceptional talent.
The best I can say for The Reaper is that it is far from the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It does have a cool locust invasion scene, the production values are decent and I enjoyed Hilary’s scientific explanations for historical plagues.
Unless you are a died-in-the wool Hilary Swank fan like myself, my advice is to skip this one.