The Reaping (2007)

Rated R. Our ratings: V- 6; L- 2; S/N-2. Running time: 1 hour 38 min.

He turned their waters into blood, and caused their fish to die. Their land swarmed with frogs, even in the chambers of their kings. He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country. He gave them hail for rain, and lightning that flashed through their land. He struck their vines and fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country. He spoke, and the locusts came, and young locusts without number; they devoured all the vegetation in their land, and ate up the fruit of their ground.
Psalm 105:29-36

Despite Hilary Swank, this is not a film to see more than once. Her latest film, quality-wise, is a far cry from Million Dollar Baby. She plays a former minister (shades of Mel Gibson in Signs!) who lost her faith when her family was killed by renegade tribesmen in Africa. Now a college professor who is called out to investigate and debunk seemingly miracles, she travels to a village amidst a Louisiana swamp when it is reported that the river has turned to blood. There follows in proper order the other 9 plagues recorded in the book of Exodus. But who sent themis far different than the situation in the Scriptures—and is she enough like Moses to cope with the situation? In Egypt the plagues were sent to further justice and to punish a recalcitrant Pharaoh who kept going back on his word to free the captive Israelites. Here we have a possessed child who might be the cause of the mayhem and a cult centered on child sacrifice, and—.

Supposedly about a woman’s return to faith, we hear no prayer from Katherine’s lips, and the portrait of Bible-belt religion is anything but inspiring. One of those supernatural thriller films that give the Bible a bad name, this will be of interest mainly to those wanting to explore how Hollywood has treated the Bible in its films.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) What do you think of the handling of the plagues in the film? Is their originator imitating God?

2) What do you think of Katherine Winter’s loss of faith? What experience, if any, have you had that sorely tested yours?

3) List some other films that appropriate sections of the Bible—why do you think that most of them are horror films? In most of them, who seems to be the strongest—Satan and his forces, or God? Why do you think this is so—and why might we be so fascinated with the power9s) of evil?

4) What do you think of the way that faith and the church are portrayed in the film? Why do you think this is the way in which so many Hollywood features do so. Compare this to such films as Tender Mercies , Places in the Heart , or The Apostle.