Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
How can we know there’s a God? Answer
What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer
What does God say? Answer
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer
Demon Possession and Influence—Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer
THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer
What is the Occult? Answer
|Featuring:||Hilary Swank, AnnaSophia Robb, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, Manolo Cardona|
|Producer:||Erik Olsen, Steve Richards, Bruce Berman|
“What hath God wrought?”
It almost goes without saying that “The Reaping” is based on the principle that whatsoever you sow, that you will also reap (Galatians 6:7). This “Supernatural Thriller” from Dark Castle Entertainment is a movie that excites, scares, thrills and horrifies, but what it also does is see justice done for both the good and the evil. And while its delivery is primarily shock and awe, this sensationalized entertainment does not fail to include important story elements like character development, unexpected twists and turns, believable drama—and the concept of faith in God woven throughout it all.
Katherine Winter (two-Time Academy Award Winner, Hilary Swank) works as a scientist traveling the world to demystify what others claim to be genuine, supernatural miracles. With a track record for scientifically explaining every miracle she has set out to discredit, Katherine is more than sure she can tackle yet another phenomenon, this time in a small town “in the heart” of the Bible belt. But when her tried and true tactics are brutally tested, her situation becomes life or death. Having abandoned her belief in God years ago after suffering a tragedy as a missionary, Katherine is not only in a battle of faith versus science, but also in a personal, inner struggle confronting her doubts about God.
While this film might fit into the horror genre, the creators of this entertainment are billing it as a “Supernatural Thriller.” One of the reasons for this is that they believe it is smarter than your typical horror film. But another reason it seems different is because of the limited graphic violence, although some brief moments are depicted. The director, Stephen Hopkins (“The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” “Lost In Space,” “Predator 2”), says, “Our goal was always to frighten people through atmosphere and ideas, rather than just simply outright gore.” Overall, the film seeks to thrill you by keeping you on the edge of your seat (in between the times you are jumping out of it) rather than just making you sick with violence.
The film is rated R, and the reasons for that involve some violence already mentioned, some disturbing images, an instance of the F-word, and a brief sex scene with no nudity. The violent instance is presented in various short flashbacks where a young boy is killed. Another instance shows some tough guys from the town being attacked by a swarm of locusts. The disturbing images involve a glimpse into a room full of dead children and a setting in a basement where occult practices take place. These instances occur sporadically for “atmosphere,” while it’s the action and suspense of the movie that are intended to scare you (i.e., Katherine is in a house by herself and slowly walks down into a dark basement).
The Christian elements involved in this production are certainly done on purpose. The supernatural events that happen in this small Bible belt town named “Haven” are taken directly from the Old Testament (Exodus 7–11) where God caused ten various plagues to hit ancient Egypt. One of the characters in the movie even makes a comment about how these supernatural events are like the ones in the Old Testament. (Something to note here, however, is that there have been some references to the New Testament in regards to this movie, specifically in the book of Revelation where similar supernatural events occur—but there is nothing inherent in this movie that points to that.) Either way, the creators have acknowledged that they are working directly with Biblical concepts. (See interview article)
Another Christian element that was purposely added into this film is the character of Ben (Idris Elba), Katherine’s fellow scientist and co-worker who helps investigate miracles. The twist here is that Ben is an outright Christian, complete with cross tattoo, cross necklace—and a testimony of how God saved his life to boot. It’s a deliberate juxtaposition to Katherine’s character and provides a way for her beliefs (or lack thereof) to be discussed. Throughout the movie, Ben is presented positively, too, as a respected associate, friend, and support to Katherine, offering her comfort and encouragement at a moment when she is terrified.
Another interesting character that appears a few times throughout the movie is Father Costigan (Stephen Rea), a priest whom Katherine has known since she was a missionary in Sudan. Father Costigan’s involvement in Katherine’s life helps instigate her thoughts about God, but in the end he seems to represent a version of faith that is dead and gone. The point seems to be made that any choice Katherine may make to believe in God again will be new and fresh—and not in a traditional, formalized religion. However, Father Costigan is instrumental in Katherine’s journey of faith.
“The Reaping” operates as a typical suspense/thriller/horror film (sans some typical gratuity) and melds in a significant dose of Christian themes and ideas. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you like this kind of entertainment, as a Christian you can find it much more gratifying than most movies of its kind.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.