Originally planned on watching a handful of horror movies today, but felt that one was enough, so I stuck with The Reaping which is one that caught my eye a bit back. Finally got around to watching it.
The Reaping. I'm a sucker for movies involving Biblical imagery and apocalypse settings, especially in creative ways. Toss in small town paranoia and a claustrophobic Southern swamp setting, and this one was surprisingly watchable though heavy handed and heavy footed. Seems to be of the philosophy that you just say most of what is going to happen in not subtle ways so the audience feels like they are playing along. Some descent uses of flash cuts mixed in with cheaper, but overall appropriate, uses of jump scares.
The movie has received many tepid to hostile reviews. Some have said the plot is confusing, which is not true (painfully not true, in ways), contrived (true, but so is 90% of other horror plots), or that it is purely derivative. I'll mention this briefly in a moment. One complaint I do agree with is that the CG detracts from nearly every scene it is in, but that's a problem with just nearly every movie that uses CG; to nitpick it here is about as fair as nitpicking the 1970s' slang in Shaft. I have no real clue as to why reviewers have taken especial umbrage with this one. It is not groundbreaking, is not terrific, drags in some spots and is predictable (the danger of saying a movie like this is predictable being, of course, that there are only a couple of possible endings and often people will claim victory if any of them show up), but tends to the adequately enjoyable range.
Reading reviews on IMDB.com, by the way, is a special treat with such dismissals as "WTF this movie is lame teh girl is not scary at all and sucked". Assuming real reviewers are more intelligent, though, I am going to guess that this is a way to backlash at Hilary Swank, creepy child movies, a slight resurgence in Catholic-themed horror, and the brief and now fading surge of popularity of horror in general.
Hilary Swank is almost always worth watching, and she carries the movie well, despite critics bashing her acting, here. The two male leads (David Morrissey and Idris Elba) are also good in their roles. Annasophia Robb is appropriately creepy...but what young child isn't? hah!
Favorite scene is still the bayou of blood (which sounds like an excellent jazz-infused death metal act or a Sam Raimi production of a Joe Lansdale movie). Some excellent shots and sets help to make up for the various lacks (including, in contrast, the scenes of way too obvious CG...painfully including the climatic scene...as horror movies seem want to do lately).
Excellent soundtrack, while I am at it.
More than one scene strongly suggests Event Horizon. Of course, most horror movies now show too many signs of being derivative. It is very much so a self-referencing genre, half homage and half the chords horror writers have to play with. This one feels a little more derivative than most, but the playing field it pulls from, largely 1970s "Catholic" horror, is one that could use a slight updating. If you are a huge fan of the old Catholic horrors, you might be annoyed by certain aspects of this one. I would go so far as to say that if Catholic horror is one of your favorite genres, it will probably make you dislike this movie more than like it. It sticks to the tried and true.
Slow to start but builds up steam in the middle and eventually gets a fair amount of tension built up, and the storyline does stray some from the predicted path (but not precisely in any way that stops it from being very predictable). Most annoying thing towards end movie is one particularly Shakespearean death.
Could well fit in with a Skeleton Key movie night.
68/100 (with 50 being fair/average)
(Note: this movie probably has the "best" reason-for-losing-faith back story ever. When the priest says he understands why she lost faith near the beginning...he means it.)
Written by W Doug Bolden
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