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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reap What You Sow

Review of The Reaping, Irish Independent, April 20

There’s a theory in movie circles that for every bad movie an Oscar winner makes, a layer of gold strips away from their statuette. Hence, Meryl Streep’s two prizes stand relatively untainted, while Cuba Gooding Junior’s award has been reduced to a mere nub. Hilary Swank’s two (deserved) Oscars have taken a lot of hits in their time, but, after The Reaping, one of the gongs should be melted down so the gold can be used to fund a money-back-guarantee for moviegoers who buy a ticket for this staggeringly hokey thriller.

Swank plays Dr Katherine Winter, a former minister and missionary, who lost her faith in God following the death of her husband and child. She now devotes her time to investigating so-called miracles and using scientific procedures to debunk religious arguments.

When a teacher (David Morrissey) from a tiny hick town deep in Bible Belt Louisiana calls on her to examine why their river has turned to blood, Katherine’s scepticism is tested as more and more biblical plagues beset the town. As the frogs fall from the sky and livestock start acting like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, Katherine comes to suspect that a creepy little girl, whose family are suspected by the God-fearin’ locals on being in a satanic cult, is being used as the vessel to bring Lucifer back to earth.

Director Stephen Hopkins, who helmed many episodes of the nerve-shredding TV thriller 24, certainly fails to replicate any of that show’s suspense in The Reaping. Every single genre cliché – from lights going out to doors blowing open to wind chimes to creepy ‘40s music on the gramophone – is wheeled out as the increasingly preposterous plot hurtles towards its apocalyptic finale. Swank, to her credit, tries to keep it all afloat, but she’s plagued by a witless script that, amazingly, took three people to write.

It just might be possible that The Reaping is actually a clever, metaphorical take on how puberty turns your little angel into a demon or even on the rapid Christian fundamentalism of George W. Bush’s America. I doubt it though, and the best that can be said of this tired, possibly offensive horror, is that its location shoot must have given a much-needed boost to Louisiana’s devastated post-Katrina economy. An unholy mess.
Rating 1/5

1 comment:

Gav said...

Hi Declan,
Gav here, you may remember me from such things as Ciara's 21st in Croker and, well... that's really about it. I was actually just wondering if your column from Day & Night is synched on Unison anywhere or should I just set a bookmark for here? :)
Greetings aus Deutschland!