Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Hopkins|
|Produced by||Richard Mirisch
|Written by||Carey Hayes
|Music by||John Frizzell|
|Edited by||Colby Parker Jr.
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
The Reaping is an 2007 American psychological horror thriller film, starring Hilary Swank. The film was directed by Stephen Hopkins for Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment. The music for the film was scored by John Frizzell.
Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) and colleague, Ben (Idris Elba), investigate and disprove claims of miracles. While in Chile, they examine the corpse of a priest who remains in pristine condition despite being dead for quite some time. Eventually they discover the crypt where the body was laid to rest was near a tunnel being used to illegally dispose of toxic waste, which helped preserve the body. In Louisiana where she teaches, Katherine receives a call from a friend, Father Michael Costigan (Stephen Rea), who says that his photographs of her have developed burn marks that when assembled, form a sickle-like symbol, a possible warning from God, which she ignores. She meets Doug Blackwell (David Morrissey), a teacher from the nearby town of Haven, who asks Katherine to find out why Haven's river has turned red. The locals believe this is a biblical plague caused by a girl, Loren McConnell (AnnaSophia Robb), who they believe killed her older brother in the river. They travel to Haven where Katherine witnesses the river is entirely red, and chemical field tests remain inconclusive. Katherine and Doug come across ruins of an old church, where Doug explains it was destroyed one hundred years ago by several hurricanes that occurred over three years, forcing the entire town to rebuild in a new location. They find an extinguished fire pit with several animal bones inside. Meanwhile, Ben witnesses dead frogs seemingly fall from the sky. Doug invites them to spend the night at his house, since the town doesn't have a motel, where he reveals he comes from a long line of only children. That night, as they're about to eat dinner, the food becomes rotted with flies instantly. Katherine and Ben get a call asking them to come to a nearby farm, where they find that all of the cows are dying of some unknown disease. Ben begins to question whether the events could actually have biblical causes, but Katherine remains unconvinced. The owner of the farm tells them that the McConnell family would be visited by people who appeared to be Satan worshippers, and that he possibly witnessed them committing a sacrifice of some kind. Later that evening, Katherine explains to Doug at his wife's grave why she left the church; five years ago, she was an ordained minister. After a drought while doing missionary work in the Sudan with her husband and daughter, the locals sacrificed her family, believing they were the cause. Katherine and Doug have sex that night.
Katherine goes to the McConnell's in order to talk to Loren. She finds Loren, who remains silent the whole time, and notices that her leg is soaked in menstrual blood. Katherine helps to clean her up, and suddenly has a vision of Loren turning the river red. Suddenly Loren's mother appears, asking if Katherine is there to kill Loren. Before she can explain further, Loren attacks her and Katherine runs away. Ben and Katherine examine Loren's brother's body, finding it has decomposed rapidly, as well as the sickle-like symbol branded into his lower back. Test results from the river prove it to contain human blood. The citizens, meanwhile, are shaving their children's heads, due to an outbreak of lice. Ben and Doug try to get the mayor to evacuate the town, but he and his staff are struck down with boils.
As the townspeople become more panicked, a posse gathers to try and kill Loren in order to stop the plagues. Katherine calls Father Costigan, who explains that he has researched a satanic cult which sacrifices every second-born once they reach puberty to create a "perfect child with the eyes of the Devil" to bring them power. He believes that Loren is the devil child, while the plagues are supposedly Loren's use of "God's weapons" against the faithful. He also states that an angel, who cannot be harmed by the cult, will destroy them. He insists that Katherine is the angel, as the term angel is sometimes used to mean servants of God. Suddenly, a supernatural force burns Costigan's room, killing him. Katherine returns to the McConnell house where she finds the cult's sacrificial chamber. There, Loren's mother says that Loren is "his servant" now, then pulls out a gun and kills herself. Katherine grabs a knife and proceeds outside to find locusts everywhere. As the townspeople arrive, with Ben and Doug in tow trying to stop them, Loren causes the locusts to attack, killing the posse. Doug runs away and falls in the blood-filled river; Katherine locks herself in the house; Ben hides in a crypt, where he discovers skeletons and bodies of sacrificed children. He calls Katherine when Loren appears outside.
Katherine hurries after Ben, but finds him dead. She confronts Loren as darkness falls and fireballs shoot from the sky. Katherine is about to kill Loren, when suddenly she says something that Katherine told her own daughter when she was in Sudan. Katherine asks how she can tell what is real. Loren answers "faith," and shows her a vision of the truth. The cult, which actually consists of the entire town, along with Doug, are shown trying to kill Loren since she has reached puberty. Loren escaped and her brother Brody stabbed her, but her wound miraculously healed, and Brody died. Katherine realizes that Loren is innocent and that she is the angel God sent. She also sees that Doug is the one who killed Ben, not Loren. The townsfolk surround them as Doug tells her that God is protecting Loren, and only an ordained servant of God like Katherine can kill her. He reveals that his family indoctrinated the entire town into the satanic cult, believing that God had abandoned them because of the natural disasters. He invited Katherine to investigate the plagues because they hoped she would join them, since she had turned her back on God like they have. Katherine refuses, reminding them that they have sacrificed generations of second-borns, leaving a town of firstborns. Suddenly fire rains down on the town, killing everyone, including Doug.
Later, as they drive away, Loren says that Katherine is pregnant. As this is her second child, Katherine realizes that her son, whose father is Doug, is the prophesied demonic child.
- Hilary Swank as Katherine Winter
- David Morrissey as Doug Blackwell
- Idris Elba as Ben
- AnnaSophia Robb as Loren McConnell
- Stephen Rea as Father Michael Costigan
- William Ragsdale as Sheriff Cade
- John McConell as Mayor Brooks
- Andrea Frankle as Maddie McConnell
- David Jensen as Jim Wakeman
- Yvonne Landry as Brynn Wakeman
- Stuart Greer as Gordon
- Lara Grice as Isabelle
- Mark Lynch as Brody McConnell
- Myles Cleveland as Kyle Wakeman
- Samuel Garland as William Wakeman
- Cody Sanders as Hank
- Burgess Jenkins as David Winter
- Sabrina A. Junius as Sarah Winter
Filming for the movie took place in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana with many scenes shot in an abandoned WalMart store. Swank convinced the producers to move the film's setting from New England to Louisiana. When Hurricane Katrina occurred midshoot (August 26, 2005), the production of the film was suspended for one week. Many scenes were shot at Ellerslie Plantation near St. Francisville, Louisiana. The DVD special features record that the producers considered shooting in another city, but decided that Louisiana needed the economic benefit of the movie being shot there.
Before and during the making of the movie, skeptic investigator Joe Nickell was consulted. The type of skeptical investigations by the movie's main character in the first part of the movie is roughly based on Nickell's investigations of claims of the paranormal since 1969.
The film was originally scheduled to play in theaters on August 5, 2006, then November 5, 2006; it was then switched to March 30, 2007, (the date featured on the above poster), and then to April 5, 2007. It was finally released on April 5, 2007, to coincide with Holy Thursday.
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The score was originally written by Philip Glass, and went as far as the recording; however, the producers were not completely satisfied and decided to give it another try. John Frizzell was then brought in to compose a new score.
The film received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 8% based on reviews from 132 critics. with the consensus stating: "It may feature such accomplished actors as Hilary Swank and Stephen Rea, but The Reaping also boasts the apropos (or not) tagline "What hath God wrought?". It's schlocky, spiritually shallow, and scare-free."
Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe, the Mayor of Concepción, Chile, formally objected to the producers of the film over its portrayal of the city in the opening scene. She pointed out that rather than being the dirty underdeveloped tropical city as shown in the movie, Concepción is an industrialized city with many universities and was surprised that such inadequate research of the setting had been carried out for a high budget movie.
- "The Reaping". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Hart, Hugh (April 1, 2007). "Real scare for cast of 'Reaping'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- The Making of The Reaping: Behind the Scenes of a Supernatural Thriller Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, accessed June 4, 2007.
- "The Reaping". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
- "Concepción Mayor Pans Hilary Swank Film". Retrieved 2010-10-27.