The Reaping

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Reaping Movie Poster Image
Violent thriller has dark religious themes.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

A former missionary rediscovers her faith via signs from the devil -- a route that involves multiple deaths, a cult that sacrifices children, rape, and suicide.

Violence

Several jump scenes in dark places; flashback scenes show sweaty, delirious poisoned Chilean villagers as well as angry Sudanese villagers dying of starvation and attacking white missionaries; images of dead fish and frogs in a river of blood and flies and maggots on fish; a dead boy's body (desiccated and creepy) appears several times; deranged cows attack a truck; scary point-of-view explorations of a dark house, a basement, and the woods; a nightmarish rape scene is intercut with a painful flashback; a scary "African" figure appears behind or near Katherine a few times; a woman commits suicide with handgun (off screen, though her body falls in the next shot); men are attacked by a swarm of locusts; discovery of skulls, bones, and bodies in a crypt; flames from the sky; a child is tied to table and threatened with ritual sacrifice (she screams); people with guns and knives threaten a young girl; a man grabs a woman and threatens her with a knife as they are swirled up in flames.

Sex

Katherine wears tight tops; during a nightmarish, fragmented rape scene, sweaty body parts and her face appear in close-up.

Language

At least one use of "f--k," plus other language ("s--t," "damn," etc.).

Consumerism

Mac PowerBook.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Beer drinking, homebrew drinking (which leads to Katherine's seeming hallucination), character carries a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this ominous, religious-themed thriller has lots of violent scenes, many involving children. Images include a river of blood, dead fish and frogs (some beset by maggots and flies), dead children's bodies and bones, a rape scene (cut into close ups and made confusing because the victim is drugged), the ritual sacrifice of children, scary shadows in creaky houses, faces covered with oozy boils, bloody walls and floors, a mural of a lynching, suicide, locusts attacking men, and flames shooting from the sky. Characters discuss faith and skepticism, and there's a little bit of drinking and some swearing (including at least one "f--k").

User Reviews

Adult Written byDexterSmith April 9, 2008

Violent, scary movie is only suitable for mature teens and adults

My 11-year-old child was so scared of this movie, that he ran out of the theatre in tears. It is very violent and scary. No one under the age of 16 should see t... Continue reading
Parent Written byPlague January 8, 2010

The Reaping

Good movie. I wouldnt give it 5 stars, but it kept the tension high and the horror coming.
Teen, 13 years old Written bymistermeaner77 April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written byVivian_L August 4, 2009

Not extremely scary for older teens~

This is another horror movie I saw after 12 midnight, and that might have affected how scary it was. (meaning I might have been too tired to think it was scary)... Continue reading

What's the story?

Summoned to the small hurricane-ravaged town of Haven, La., to explain a river of blood, miracle-debunking professor Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) and her research assistant, Ben (Idris Elba) -- a former street thug turned churchgoer -- take samples of the river, dead fish, and frogs that fall from the sky. Soon, Katherine starts having flashbacks to her time as a missionary in Sudan, where she lost her husband and daughter to locals who believed that the white folks caused their drought and famine. And though Katherine's obviously very bright and rational, she gives way to righteous fearfulness as events in Haven turn increasingly strange, violent, and inexplicable. Her guide to the town's history, schoolteacher Doug (David Morrissey), reveals the locals' theory of who's responsible -- namely, a cute little girl named Loren (AnnaSophia Robb). As Katherine's intrigue with Loren develops, the older woman misses or ignores Ben's suggestions that they leave town now. The more that Katherine tries to figure out the signs, the more distanced she becomes from her best friend/loyal colleague, who is, in fact, the most sensible reader of signs from the start.

Is it any good?

Early in this silly biblical thriller, Ben reveals that he was once a street thug, shot by rivals and sent to prison, but now he's found God. Thus Ben embodies the movie's supposed argument between Christian belief and skepticism: Loyal to Katherine's scientific project, he's also a believer who can recognize when they're "witnessing biblical events." Meanwhile, Katherine's personal history intersects too neatly with her current investigation, clouding her judgment and hampering her ability to interpret the signs. As Ben both understands the biblical source material and maintains just enough skepticism, he's not seduced, like Katherine. If only he was the star of this movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the film uses scary "religious" imagery. In general, what messages does the movie send about faith and religion? Can you think of other horror movies that deal with religious issues? Why do the two often go hand in hand? Families can also discuss how the movie simplifies the split between religious faith and science (for instance, in the explanation of miracles).

Movie details

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