Michael Slezak
April 06, 2007 AT 07:46 PM EDT

Like locusts descending on a small bayou town, the nation’s film critics are swarming to attack The Reaping, Hilary Swank’s long-delayed Biblical horror flick that arrived in theaters yesterday with terrible buzz and a less-than-thrilling trailer. But if any of you are worried that there’s not enough haterade to go around, fret not — reviewers found plenty of suspects to share the blame for the film’s failure.

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune takes a swing at the film’s composer: “Thanks only partly to composer John Frizzell, who never met a metallic kunnggg he couldn’t use at the most obvious juncture, The Reaping proves that you reap what you sow, and what these particular screenwriters have sown is just another word for manure.”

Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe, meanwhile, has a bone to pick with two other departments: “The lighting is often too dark to see what’s happening, and the editing makes a mess of even the most tolerable scenes (the locust attack, for example). Like most of these movies, the film is cut like a trailer for a horror flick instead of being a horror flick proper.”

Christy Lemire of the Associated Press piles some scorn on the folks in special effects: “Peter Levy provides some striking cinematography — all that blood-red river water contrasting sharply with the lush greenery surrounding it — while other effects, including the climactic killing of the firstborns, look just plain cheesy. The fifth plague, dead livestock, also offers some unintentional hilarity.”

addCredit(“The Reaping: Everett Collection”)

The movie’s Oscar-winning star isn’t getting off the hook, either, thanks to Desson Thomson of the Washington Post:”When rivers turn red, locusts swarm and cows shrivel into scorchedbeef, you know that either Al Gore was right or you’re watching anotherbad supernatural thriller. In this case, you are suffering through The Reaping, a pretentious scarefest, and wondering what compelled Hilary Swank to involve herself in this project.”

The film’s director also takes some punches, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter‘sKirk Honeycutt: “[Stephen] Hopkins pulls all the usual horror-filmtricks. He keeps his camera inches from his actors so any person,object or animal entering the frame causes a cheap jolt.”

A similar complaint comes from James Verniere of the Boston Herald: “It’s raining frogs and locusts, CGI-style. Director Stephen Hopkins (Lost in Space) and cinematographer Peter Levy, who collaborated on several episodes of 24,shoot many scenes with a hand-held camera and cut like they’re oncrack. On the big screen, instead of giving the action a sense ofyou-are-there immediacy, it’s an annoying and tiresome affectation.”

But hey! Let’s not forget The Reaping‘s producers! Care to help out, Scott Weinberg of Cinematical?: “The Reapingcomes from the ‘horror specialty’ production house known as DarkCastle. In other words, if you still trust the word of the people whooffered you House on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, Ghost Ship, Gothika and House of Wax — then you’ll probably have a ball with what goes on in The Reaping.”

Jack Garner of Gannett News Servicedoesn’t want a certain respected thespian feeling ignored, either:”Playing the priest is another overqualified actor, Stephen Rea, wholiterally phones in his part, since nearly all his scenes find himalone, on the phone to Katherine.”

And not even the movie’s pre-teen costar is spared, thanks to Claudia Puig of USA Today:”They’re certain that the plagues are connected to the demise of ayoung boy and the evildoing of his 12-year-old sister (AnnaSophia Robb,who mostly stares blankly as blood drips down her bare legs).”

Of course, Rea and Robb wouldn’t be able to fail without a terrible script, which gets called out by Amy Biancolli of the Houston Chronicle:”[Swank’s character] lost her faith when a demonic shaman (or something— he’s covered in ash and bleeding from various facial orifices)murdered her husband and daughter ‘as a sacrifice to God’ to combatwidespread famine. If I were Sudanese, I would be outraged by thisfathead stereotype. On second thought, I’m not Sudanese, and I’moutraged by this fathead stereotype. Screenwriters Carey and ChadHayes, among others, apparently decided that death by drought anddevastation wasn’t bad enough.”

Whew! That’s a lot of shame and blame for one movie, no? Of course, if there’s anyone else left to criticize among The Reaping‘s cast and crew, please feel free to add to the bile pile in the comments section below.

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