*/**** Image C+ Sound A Extras C-
starring Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, Stephen Rea
screenplay by Carey W. Hayes & Chad Hayes
directed by Stephen Hopkins
by Walter Chaw Brave enough to show a few kid corpses hanging up in a basement but not brave enough to actually be about a tormented woman murdering an adorable antichrist, Stephen Hopkins's The Reaping harvests its share of not-startling jump scares and not-interesting scripture for a frugal repast of mainstream diddle. Neither bad in the way of End of Days nor good in the way of Stigmata, it is instead another millennial picture about sacrificing our children to questionable causes and Old Testament vengeance wrought upon the unholy. I understand why we get films like this in 2007, films full of dead kids and religious wrath, but understanding why isn't the same thing as valuing the picture. Its confusion between being neo-conservative while believing that it's ultra-liberal muddies the final "twist" of the picture, posing the interesting conundrum of whether or not abortion is okay if the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Though it's pretty clear where the film has led its audience, that doesn't make the question any less thorny. (What it does do is make The Reaping's consummate, dedicated emptiness its only lingering aftertaste.) Count as its scattershot sources Rosemary's Baby, The Bad Seed, The Amityville Horror, Alien, I Walked with a Zombie, The Skeleton Key, Exorcist: The Beginning, and so on--the only purpose of composing such a list to point out how much the film allows for masturbatory skylarking, harking back to genre pictures better and worse.