Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie Review: The Reaping

 The Reaping is one of the many films related to the Christian "Antichrist".  I always find films like this interesting, as they point to just how horrific the stories in the Christian Bible can be, especially many of the people who decry the imagery depicted in horror films are often coming from a Christian background and basising their opinions on a Christian-moral perspective.  

 If you like blood, guts, and deviant sex, the Christian Bible is a fascinating read.

 One of the "mistakes" made with these kinds of films is the way the mix their Christian myths.  I imagine this has something to do with what the audience is familiar with.  The Antichrist concept is drawn from the Book of Revalation, which is full of all kinds of horror and intrigue, but is not very well-known other than a few select passages.  The plagues visited upon Egypt by the benevolent Christian God in the Book of Exodus are very well known, made a part of the Western Psyche by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.  These plagues are out-of-place in the Antichrist story.

 The Reaping is a thinly veiled morality tale.  Hillary Swank's character is a former missionary who lost her faith when her daughter was sacrificed by an African tribe her family was ministering to in hopes to appease the gods and end a drought.  Since then, she has been active as an investigator debunking apparently supernatural claims of a religious nature.  In the end, it appears that she was actually searching for evidence that would allow her to re-affirm her faith.  I find this part of the plot troublesome for two reasons.  First, regardless of the events that lead her to re-discover her faith, her religion still failed her and was culpable in the death of her child, even if that child was effectively replaced by the girl she assists later in the story.  Second, the use of an African Tribe sacrificing a white girl is an indicator of the subtle racism that remains a part of the fabric of Christian beliefs, something that the writer may or may not have intended when the screen-play was written.

 The plot is also not very subtle in its foreshadowing of the twist at the climax of the film.  A small town in Louisiana is being plagued by phenomenon which appear Biblical in nature; water turns to blood, a swarm of locusts, boils, etc.  The entire town blames a little girl who lives on the outskirts, her family already socially outcast.  Even her mother appears to wish her dead.  Of course the whole town is in on it, and the little girl is the victim.

 I guess the question I would ask is why it took God so long to intervene?

 The plot is the weakness of this film.  The acting is convincing, and the special effects are top-of-the-line.  When the foundation of the film is weak, there simply isn't much you can do for it.  The film isn't terribly frightening, and lacks any real depth.



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