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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Reaping02:50 PM -- Thu October 26, 2017

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

The Reaping (2007)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“A former Christian missionary, who specializes in debunking religious phenomena, investigates a small town which seems to be suffering from the 10 biblical plagues.”
IMDB Rating: 5.7/10
Metacritic Rating: 36/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 8% critics, 49% audience
Solee: 3/5
Mikey: 3/5
We watched this on Netflix.

Mikey: I saw you flipping through the options on Netflix. What was the magic formula that sucked you into The Reaping?

Solee: You know, I’m not even entirely sure. Did I pick this movie?

Mikey: You did! You always pick Satan vs. God movies. That’s why you did it.

Solee: Oh, RIGHT! I remember. I watched the preview and there were plagues of locusts and what-not. I find that kind of thing fascinating. Just like Katherine in the movie, I am drawn to finding scientific explanations for those kinds of phenomena. The world is a very cool place full of lots of bizarre things.

Mikey: That is true. Some less bizarre than others, like when it rained frogs for all of 20 seconds, and about 20 frogs total. Some plagues are better than others.

Solee: But they were the really BIG frogs like at the fair when you have to use the rubber mallet to launch them into spinning lilypads! I think it was the locusts that really drew me in. There were just so many of them. I’m not afraid of grasshoppers or anything that looks like a grasshopper … until there are billions of them and they cover you like a blanket and suffocate you. *shudder* Which was your favorite plague?

Mikey: That was easily the best one. And there were definitely more than 20 locusts. That brings up another issue, but it was an ending-twist issue, so maybe better for later. Instead, let me complain about a plague! The water turned to blood. It was clearly still water, just red. Which I was fine with, because it could certainly have blood in it to make it red. But they got their lab results back and were all “no way, it’s human blood. For that area it’d take like 200,000 people to make that much blood!” Wait wait wait. There is NO WAY that was all blood. It was clearly water. I can’t believe they are proposing that the red water they showed us was 100% blood. That’s just bad. Don’t they know blood is thicker than water?

Solee: They couldn’t get the permits for replacing the entire bayou with red corn syrup.

Mikey: If they’re not willing to destroy an entire ecosystem to make the movie, I don’t feel like I need to watch the movie.

Solee: To be fair, they clearly spent a large portion of their budget on CGI stuff: frogs, flies, skinny cows (not the ice cream bar), lice, locusts, birds, darkness, meteors … all that took a pretty penny, I’m sure.

Mikey: I forgot about the meteors, they were pretty crazy. There was one cow in the background of one shot that was the most awful CGI ever. But overall I thought that stuff was well done. Well, the one cow and the lice were bad. The lice was just little black dots swarming over their heads. I don’t think lice move like that.

Solee: I had another complaint about the lice … why was their FIRST reaction to shave all the children bald? Lice is basically a plague that occurs in every elementary school at least once a year. There are other ways of handling it.

Mikey: It’s tough when you also have boils and locusts to worry about. The quick fix is where you go.

Solee: Oh! I forgot about the boils. Think that was CGI? Or makeup?

Mikey: Just makeup. That was appropriate. Although the people who had the boils were all dead. That made me feel like this was a little more serious than your average boil. Perhaps Satan (or God?) got confused and boiled them.

Solee: You’ve brought us to the real question of the movie. Was it God or Satan who sent those plagues? At one point, it was explained that Satan was using them to protect his “perfect child”, but that child turned out to be an Angel from God, so was it really God warning them? Or did the fact that the final plague/sacrifice actually end up showing that it was Satan the whole time??

Mikey: Oh, I thought there was no question, but now I see what you are saying. So, once all the facts are in, it appears that God had sent the plagues to stop the cultists from hurting his baby girl (though… I don’t get it, why did their evil rituals result in some sort of angel-baby?). But then the end result of all the plagues going off is that the cult, presumably, got their devil-baby in Katherine’s belly. Which I want to point out was supposed to only have the eyes of the devil, so come on, you’re gonna condemn a kid for her eye color? Even if it’s magma red?

Solee: I think the whole idea that Loren was the perfect child sent by Satan was all misdirection. She was sent by God to disrupt the devil-worshippers’ plan which was to get the devil-baby into Katherine all along. Unfortunately, God’s plagues (particularly the one involving the sacrifice of all those first-borns) were part of Satan’s plan. It was that final sacrifice that really finalized the Katherine-is-carrying-the-Devil’s-son plan.

Mikey: There does seem to be some broken logic in here somewhere. I guess we can just go with “God did the right thing, but Satan is super sneaky and knew it was coming and played it out”. Which leads into the whole issue of omniscience and whatnot, but I’m gonna toss that one aside. What I really want to discuss is the fact that the sequel is gonna be the best Odd Couple sibling rivalry ever!

Solee: Like … Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett? (Which is being filmed right now, I believe.)

Mikey: I don’t remember the details, but if it’s about Devil-Baby and Angel-Baby arguing over which’s Food Cake they’re going to have for their 5th birthday party (oh, I guess she’s like 12 years older than him… but maybe he grows supernaturally fast, like they sometimes do), then YES.

Solee: Sounds like fun to me! This isn’t just a God vs Satan movie, it’s also a Science vs Faith movie. It’s unclear as to whether God or Satan ends up winning, but it’s pretty obvious that Faith wins out over Science here.

Mikey: Well, not so fast! That’s the trouble with fictional movies. No faith is involved at all. Those cultists exploded in front of her face, so Science says that stuff is real. You can’t beat science! That’s the thing in a movie, the “skeptical” side is proven wrong by the fact that the actual facts are supernatural. And you can use science to verify them, even (like a test to prove the river is 100% human blood and not at all just using editing software to shift regular water to red).

Solee: Hmm. So it’s actually that the science is different in that fictional world? Interesting take. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I don’t think the directors thought of it that way either, though.

Mikey: That’s the tricky thing… whenever a movie tries to say “this supernatural thing is real, see here’s the evidence!!” they’re actually changing it from supernatural to natural. If you can get evidence, then it can be investigated. I won’t make a claim as to whether the supernatural is real, in the real world, because it’s impossible to know - by being supernatural, it is beyond the ability to investigate (BUT it is not real, sorry guys!).

Solee: I don’t know. There was definitely something to Katherine’s willingness, if only momentarily, to sacrifice a young girl to stop the devil even though her own daughter being killed the same way is what destroyed her faith in the first place. That was a pretty strong message of faith over science to me.

Mikey: I see what you mean… the idea that she’d be willing to do that is kind of nuts, when a normal character would be like “Um, no, killing a kid doesn’t fix plagues.” I hadn’t even really clicked in on that because I was just thinking in horror movie terms, where that just makes sense. Of course you kill the kid! Solee’s Rule of Plagues.

Solee: The Bible is really the only place where murdering children is the go-to solution for anything. Even the movies where killing the scary kid has to be done are generally possession movies. It’s actually pretty disturbing, now that I think about it.

Mikey: And in fact they usually aren’t willing to do it at all, or trying everything they can instead of killing anybody. So it is pretty creepy, actually. Especially when plugged into this “real world” scenario. You can imagine a real person saying “yup, this Hurricane Jose is just too big. I think killing that little kid should fix it!” or worse yet, a preacher proclaiming that that’s the case.

Solee: And we’ve just established the biggest reason for my lack of faith. Too often it’s used to the detriment of the weaker folk. Anyway, the “Does God exist?” part of this movie was the least interesting part to me. I don’t usually care for movies that revolve around someone getting their faith back after tragedy, but this one was well done in so many aspects that I didn’t mind that part. I thought the acting was good and the filmography was done well.

Mikey: One last remark on faith: It bothers me that movies like this want to say “see, this is why you should have faith” when what they actually show on screen involves no faith at all. She believed in things at the end of the movie because she had proof, not any faith. I find that frustrating. But yeah, it was some fancy actors (Hilary Swank and Idris Elba) doing fancy acting. Not another found-footage slasher for sure.

Solee: IMDB called it “horror, thriller”. Did it hit the horror category for you?

Mikey: I think it was on the edge. What it really felt the most like was that “genre” where a detective from the North visits a weird little part of the South and gets entwined in mysteries and tries to solve a crime. Which is definitely a type of thriller. But obviously it wasn’t literally that. It had a lot of the elements of that, but I think you get the cult and devil-baby angles and you can legally claim it as horror. Is that fair?

Solee: Seems fair to me. Those locusts were pretty horrific. And there were elements of possession, which is a pretty classic horror. It wasn’t overly scary for me, though. I guess it had a low-level of anxiety that ran throughout, but I definitely will remember it more as a suspenseful movie than a scary one.

Mikey: Ooh, suspense is definitely the word I wanted instead of thriller up above! So, do you feel prepared to rate this Southern Gothic Suspense Possession Cult Film?

Solee: I guess. I thought I enjoyed this movie while I was watching it, but it’s less than 14 hours later and I’m already feeling very ambivalent about it. I suspect in a week, I’ll have forgotten most of it. That’s generally not a good sign for a movie. I’m not even sure why I feel this way, since I feel pretty positively about all the different elements of the film. They just didn’t add up to something that connected with me. So … a 3? It wasn’t terrible. But it didn’t click.

Mikey: Wow, I think you have described my feelings! I don’t hold any hate for the movie, it seemed fine to watch, but is very much forgettable. I think we throw that right in the middle with another 3. It’s not worth watching, yet it’s not actually bad. Interesting.

And that brings us to our next movie, which will hopefully be good, worth watching, and interesting to boot: The Devil's Rejects.

Solee: That seems like asking a lot! But I have faith.
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