Film Reviews


By • Apr 5th, 2007 •

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Warner Bros. Pictures presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures a Dark Castle Entertainment production
Running time — 100 minutes / MPAA rating: R

Swank takes some time off to vacation in a silly paranormal thriller.

Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank is taking some time off from acting. At least she hasn’t gone the BEWITCHED/STEPFORD WIVES route. Or is a romantic comedy next for Hilary?

Was THE REAPING based on “The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist’s Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories” by Colin J. Humphreys? Did you see The History Channel’s “The Exodus Decoded”? Filmmaker Simcha “The Shameful” Jacobovici (Simcha linked up with James Cameron to find The Family Tomb of Jesus) did a stroll through the scientific evidence that concludes the Ten Plagues of Egypt were just naturally occurring disasters. Moses hoodwinked the Egyptians! He told them “I Am” did it.

Set in THE SKELETON KEY locale – the very same Louisiana bayou – Professor Katherine Winter (Swank) is a knowledgeable non-believer in voodoo, Christianity, and all things sacred. Her husband and beautiful daughter were murdered in the Sudan where she was a minister. With bad things happening all around Katherine in the Sudan, she takes it personally. She becomes God’s arch-enemy.

Katherine gets a mysterious call from Father Costigan (Stephen Rea) telling her he is experiencing poltergeist activity. His photos of her are burning up. Instead of this being a warning of foreboding disaster or going to check the good Father out, Katherine dismisses it. Within days she gets a visit from handsome science teacher Doug Blackwell (David Morrissey) asking her to come to his town of Haven.

Their river has turned blood red (Plague #1). A teenager has been murdered. Katherine and her former assistant, a big black dude clearly out of place in the Bible-fearing backwater, Ben (Idris Elba), go to Haven. Ben is a believer, but Katherine is hell-bent on debunking the prevailing theory that Haven is experiencing the beginning of the Moses-incited Ten Plagues against Egypt.

Okay. Moses did had his reasons, but who is behind this re-enactment? Could it be…The Devil?

Katherine rattles off the Ten Plagues and why they were considered a natural consequence of events beginning with the #1 Plague: Water to Blood (due to exceptionally hot weather, there was an outbreak of the toxic algal bloom “Physteria”. This dyno-phlagellate algae dissolved the still living fish, making the water toxic), #2 Frogs, #3 Gnats, #4 Flies, #5 Livestock Diseased, # 6 Boils, #7 Thunder and Hail, # 8 Locusts, #9 Darkness, and the show stopping #10: Death of the Firstborn!

And the explanation for the Death of the Firstborn? Only the first born of Egyptian families was given more to eat. And the grain was toxic. The Israelites were using different practices for food preparation that didn’t concentrate the infected grain into lethal doses. This resulted in no deaths among them.

Since I have read Humphreys’ book, the only question remains: Was this the first time the Egyptians had experienced these naturally occurring conditions? Didn’t they have some really smart people around?

While all this is indeed fascinating, and an interesting series of paranormal events to wrap a movie around, the writers, brothers Casey W. and Chad Hayes, use every trick in the screenplay book “20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them)” by Ronald B. Tobias.

All these types of movies have the same catatonic, speechless little girl, Loren (AnnaSophia Robb), getting around town and swamp without shoes. She also has unwashed hair. As the only murder to have ever taken place in Haven, everyone thinks Loren killed her brother and God is getting revenge on Haven.


Katherine does a lot of stupid things that are okay for a teenager in Brazil or Australia to do, but she is a scientist. Never snoop around someone’s house – twice! David Morrissey, personally selected by She-Devil Sharon Stone to be her co-star in BASIC INSTINCT 2, has not yet been able to translate to U.S. screens his sex appeal. He must have it – or why else is he in movies? – but hasn’t found the right director.

Gerard Butler (300) has finally found his director.

Swank appears to walk through this movie actually being told what to do. Her acting intelligence is not on display. She’s playing a smart woman who is really acting dumb. Maybe she liked the idea of wearing a long, blond wig. The director, Stephen Hopkins, gives us nothing new. This has become a tough genre – we have become way too sophisticated. We want to be scared, but not by a burst of thunder, or candles going out in the wind.

Director: Stephen Hopkins
Screenwriters: Casey W. Hayes, Chad Hayes
Story: Brian Rousso
Producers: Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, Susan Downey, Herbert W. Gains
Executive producers: Erik Olsen, Steve Richards, Bruce German
Director of photography: Peter Levy
Production designer: Graham “Grace” Walker
Music: John Frizzell
Costume designer: Jeffrey Kurland
Editor: Colby Parker Jr.

Katherine Winter: Hilary Swank
Doug Blackwell: David Morrissey
Ben: Idris Elba
Loren: AnnaSophia Robb
Father Costigan: Stephen Rea

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