Idol Chatter

I always dreamed of the day when a Hollywood director would have the courage to transform a biblical disaster story into a big screen blockbuster. I thought my dream had come true when I saw the posters for “The Reaping,” a film that depicts a modern day onslaught of the ten plagues.

The film focuses on the life of Katherine (Hillary Swank), a former missionary who loses faith in God after her husband and daughter die during a mission trip. Following this tragedy, Katherine goes from Christian to cynic–and lands a job where she uses science to disprove biblical miracles. Katherine is smug in her role as a biblical miracle ball-buster, but it isn’t until she is approached by Doug (David Morrissey) about the strange occurrences taking place in Haven that she faces a faith crisis that science can’t answer.

Haven is a small town where all of the usual religious stereotypes prevail. The women are only concerned with procreation, the men with steering their cattle, and every church has doors wide open with signs posted out front like, “Our Lord’s a gentle Lord, but don’t push it.” And of course there are no people of color in Haven, so when Katherine arrives with her black colleague Ben (Idris Elba), the townspeople gawk at him–and possibly his tattoos.

And as if the movie could afford to scrimp on excitement–the first 20 minutes goes by without a good scare–the film goes on a downward spiral of nonsense with its failure to bring the God of the plague into the spotlight. You’d think that with the movie’s focus on biblical plagues, there’d be some attention given to God and redemption. But, no.

The townspeople are afraid, but no one gets down on their knees to repent and not once do they have a church service to ward off evil. Ben, a devout Christian, never prays for Katherine to have faith in the midst of the chaos. And when Katherine finally realizes that she must look to the hills from where cometh her help, she still doesn’t turn to the Lord. And where are the plagues? They almost seem secondary to giving Hillary Swank good camera time.

Maybe I was expecting too much of the movie. But I thought that since its release date is so closed to Good Friday, it would at least be edifying to people of faith or accurate to the Bible, from which it was inspired. Alas, it’s clear the movie wasn’t meant to be thought provoking, soul-saving, or tactful. It’s just another shameless ploy to jump on the religion bandwagon.

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