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Film / The Reaping

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The Reaping is a 2007 Religious Horror film starring Hilary Swank, Idris Elba and AnnaSophia Robb. Swank plays Katherine Winter, a former Christian Missionary who investigates and debunks claims of miracles. She and her colleague Ben (Elba) are called to the Louisiana town of Haven, whose town people claim to be suffering a biblical plague caused by a young girl named Loren (Robb).

The Reaping provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Agent Mulder: Ben, a Christian believer, plays this role in his and Katherine's investigations. Very much like her, he has personal reasons for his opinions on God.
  • Agent Scully: Katherine is the skeptical part of his team.
  • All Just a Dream: Katherine sleeping with Doug while hallucinating Loren's presence nearby. Only it wasn't a dream and the act wasn't consensual.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Members of the Satanic cult sacrifice all their children to Satan, except for the firstborn, who are inducted into the cult, to ensure the cult itself can survive. In reality, you would need (on average) two offspring to survive (and reproduce) per couple just for the population to remain stable. Even if the cultists recruit outsiders to marry the kids they don't sacrifice, attrition would still wipe them out, as some of each generation are likely to die, fail to reproduce at all, or leave the cult.
  • Babies Ever After: Katherine adopts Loren and then discovers she's pregnant at the end. Subverted as she realizes to her horror that she was actually drugged and raped by Doug and that her child may be the antichrist and doomed second born.
  • Big Bad: Loren who's inflicting the nine plagues upon the town of Haven. The plot twist reveals that Doug and the rest of the townspeople of Haven are actually the bad guys and was Loren was sent by God to destroy them.
  • Big "NO!": Doug screams this as the townspeople of Haven are being killed off by the last biblical plague and Katherine saves Loren.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of the film, a Satanic cult has been destroyed, a creature of God has been saved, Katherine has regained her faith and she has a new surrogate daughter. Then it's revealed that she is pregnant with The Antichrist.
  • Breeding Cult: A satanic cult sacrifices every second-born child once they reach puberty to create "a perfect child with the eyes of the Devil" to bring them power. The townspeople of Haven are revealed to be this as they merely continue to produce more children simply for the means of sacrificing them in their satanic rituals eventually.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The townspeople of Haven going up against a little girl with evil supernatural abilities with only their guns and pitchforks goes about as well as one would expect. As the townspeople of Haven and her older brother Brody found out the hard way when Loren sic her biblical plagues on them. Justified since Loren is actually an angel sent from God to punish them.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: How Doug takes advantage of Katherine.
  • Cain and Abel: Doug warns Katherine that Loren killed her brother by the river. Flashbacks reveal that her older brother Brody actually tried to kill her as part of a satanic ritual sacrifice.
  • Child by Rape: Katherine's second child is this as Doug took advantage of her when she was unconscious from her alcoholic beverage.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: In the erotic dream of her and Doug, Katherine sees Loren watching them from the outside but she is too into the sex to do anything about it.
  • Covers Always Lie: Many creatures gather around Loren. Not one of them is a snake.
  • Creepy Child: For most of the film, Loren is a mute child with weird eyes and a vibe of something... wrong.
  • Devil, but No God: Played with. Most of the paranormal events of the film are attributed to the Devil, but they are actually acts of God, specifically through an angel. That said, the Devil is not absent, as he stills makes his presence felt by incinerating Father Costigan.
  • Divine Intervention: When Katherine and Loren are surrounded by satanists, God sends down fireballs to destroy the satanists.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The secondary hero protagonist Ben dies near the end.
  • Erotic Dream: Katherine has one about having sex with Doug. Subverted as it really did happen, though not the way she imagined.
  • Driven to Suicide: Loren Mc Connell's mother Mrs. McConnell puts a gun in her mouth after failing to kill Loren.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: It's revealed Doug took the opportunity to rape Katherine when she was passed out from the drink he gave to her.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Katherine, currently trying to disprove God’s existence by debunking miracles, was once a preacher, until on an expedition, her husband and daughter were both killed by a religious cult. By the end of the movie, however, Katherine has regained her faith.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Loren's period dripping down her leg.
    • Doug raping an unconscious Katherine in flashbacks.
  • Fanservice:
    • Katherine's erotic dream depicting a steamy sex scene between her and Doug.
    • Katherine spends most of her time either in a white dress or a tight fitting tank top and pants which are focused on by the camera.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Doug who at first glance seems like a nice person but he has no qualms about attempting to kill an innocent child, murdering Ben, and taking advantage of Katherine when she was unconscious. Also, the townspeople of Haven, given that they're all manipulative cult satanists.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The biblical plagues were used by God against the wicked, this is a hint that Loren is Good All Along.
    • The first time they arrive at the Church of Haven, there is already a hint the whole village are cultists, on the sign for The Church of Haven, instead of using "o" alphabet, they use the "hook" symbol.
    • Everyone in the town of Haven has two children or more. Some of the women already have a toddler and pregnant with another one on the way. Isabelle says that she and her pregnant neighbor are just weeks apart.
    • Isabelle tells Katherine that he have fulgurite wind chimes because they get a lot of lightning in their town. Most in three parishes.
    • When Katherine asks one of the pregnant women Isabelle if she's having a boy or a girl, she nonchalantly replies "Heck, doesn't matter to me". This is because she's anticipating sacrificing her second born once it's reached puberty.
    • "Their first-born are branded and left unharmed to carry on the genetic line." As this line is spoken by Father Costigan, some children are looking eerily at Katherine.
    • Doug telling Katherine he came from a long line of only children. This comes back to bite him and the townspeople of Haven in the end as the last of the plagues is death of the firstborns.
    • Doug warning Katherine not to call TV stations or round up scientists for the town of Haven. He claims that their town's the best kept secret in the bible and not wanting it turned into a punchline. This is actually because Doug was hiding the dark truth that the town of Haven is populated with satanic cultists.
    • When confronted by Loren's mother who asks Katherine if she's going to kill Loren, Katherine assures her no. Loren's mother then asks why not. This is not because Loren is supposedly evil but really because Loren's mother is one of the satanic cultists who tried to sacrifice their second born (i.e. Loren) in their rituals.
    • How is it Ben dies down below in the sacrificial chambers if Loren is outside waiting above ground? And not long after Ben dies, Doug suddenly appears inside the sacrificial chambers claiming to have just got there. Turns out Doug actually murdered Ben to keep his mouth shut and blamed it on Loren.
    • In the erotic dream she has, Katherine appears to be drunk and disoriented during sex with Doug.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Apparently subverted with Loren, and finally played straight.
  • He Knows Too Much: One of the reasons why Doug murdered Ben.
  • Here We Go Again!: After learning that Loren is actually an angel sent by God to help, Katherine prevents her from mistakenly being sacrificed as the second child. In the end, after adopting Loren as her own, Loren congratulates her on her second baby which makes Katherine realize to her horror that her unborn Child by Rape is doomed to be the second child to be sacrificed.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Katherine, who is attempting to disprove God's existance by debunking miracles. As she lost faith when her family was killed, is can't help but come across as outright Revenge.
  • Human Sacrifice: Once secondborn (and possibly later children) reach puberty they are sacrificed.
  • Irony: A town called Haven is populated with satanic cultists.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Because Brody tried to kill Loren, his own little sister who was actually an angel sent by God, God punished Brody by having his body suffer rapid decay to death.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Doug mentions that he and his wife tried to conceive a son but were unsuccessful and his wife passed away from her cancer not long after. Katherine easily becomes pregnant after she is raped by Doug one time in an unconscious state.
  • The Lost Lenore: Doug talks about missing his wife Sam after she lost her battle with cancer. He says he can still hear her in the kitchen sometimes.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Doug murdered Ben so that he could pin the blame on Loren and trick Katherine into murdering her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Or what she had almost done. Katherine is left even more confused and horrified that she was almost tricked into killing an innocent child.
  • Mystical Plague: The town of Haven claims to be suffering the biblical plagues of Egypt, which is the reason Katherine is there. They are revealed to be Loren's angelic power.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted; Loren has her first period in front of Katherine, which later becomes a plot point.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Doug notes that he and Katherine both lost the people they loved (Doug lost his wife, and Katherine lost her daughter and husband in Sudan). And that their personal losses drove them to lose their faith. Doug actually converted to satanism not long after. And uses this once again to try to get Katherine to convert to satanism alongside him and the townspeople of Haven.
  • Once More, with Clarity: As Doug begs Katherine to kill Loren before the next plague as he is a firstborn, flashbacks center on Father Costigan describing how the firstborn were spared of the satanic sacrifices over the second-born. Doug telling Katherine that he's descended from a long line of only children. A pregnant Isabelle not caring at all about her unborn second child's gender. And Loren's mother asking Katherine why won't she kill her daughter.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Katherine wakes up after a steamy dream involving her and Doug and one too many nightmares about Loren and being back in Sudan and goes to get a drink of water in the kitchen. Only to find that she tracked white sand from Sudan into the kitchen and realizes she wasn't dreaming. Flashbacks later reveal that the supposed consensual sex between her and Doug was actually Doug drugging and raping the intoxicated Katherine to impregnate her with the Antichrist.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Father Costigan believes Katherine is a metaphorical angel sent by God. Then it turns out that Loren is the angel, and a much more literal example.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The reason Katherine became an atheist is because of corrupt religious people murdering her family on an expedition. Her young daughter was murdered in a sacrifice alongside her father (Katherine’s husband).
  • Plot Twist: The creepy child Loren is actually the good guy and all the townspeople of Haven are the true antagonists.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Loren tells a confused Katherine to have faith during their darkest hour. It takes Katherine reigniting her faith in God that saves both her and Loren's lives when they are surrounded by the satanists of Haven.
  • The Reveal: Loren is the angel sent by God to destroy evil and the townspeople people of Haven are actually delusional satanic cultists out to stop her.
  • Religion of Evil: The townspeople of Haven worship Satan, conduct human sacrifices using their own second-born children, and hope to one day be blessed with a "perfect" child Antichrist.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Katherine is the Agent Scully, convinced these "plagues" have a scientific explanation, as a result of her husband and daughter being killed as a sacrifice. When Loren summons a horde of locusts (out of nowhere) to kill men about to attack her, Katherine is forced to admit there is absolutely no scientific explanation for that and admits something paranormal/supernatural is occurring.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Katherine delivers one to Doug and the townspeople of Haven as they try once more to get her to kill Loren and join their satanic cult.
    Katherine: That's not God. God didn't kill my family. A weak, godless man filled with fear and hatred...a man like you. There's still that last plague, Doug. The death of the first-born. And you come from a long line of only children. (to the townspeople of Haven) You all do!
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Doug delivers one to Katherine. Telling her why he and the townspeople of Haven turned their backs on God and worship Satan instead and try to manipulate her into joining them.
    Doug: The whole of Haven used to pray to God on this spot. You know how He answered their prayers? With floods and devastation. He abandoned them, so they abandoned God. My family introduced them to the true Lord. A powerful Lord, who hears his people's prayers. You were ordained and you turned your back on God just like we did. That's why we chose you. Only a servant of God can kill his angel. You remember what your God did to you in the Sudan? What about your daughter, huh? Now that...that is your God. Katherine... (offers her the knife)
  • Shout-Out: The plot twist revealing a satanic cult, gaslighting, rape, and the main female protagonist becoming pregnant with the antichrist bears similarities to the film Rosemary's Baby.
  • Slipping a Mickey: There was something else inside that bourbon that made it easy for Katherine to pass out and for Doug to rape her.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Katherine is about to kill Loren, when suddenly she says something that Katherine told her own daughter in Sudan.
  • Southern Gothic: Most of the film's horror takes place in modern day Louisiana.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The gospel song "Take Me To The Water" by Nina Simone plays out as Katherine and Doug have sex in her erotic dream and their threat Loren watches them from the outside.
  • Traumatic Haircut: As the plague of lice hits Haven, children are shown reluctantly getting their heads shaved due to lice infestation.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Doug suffers one after Katherine rejects his offer, she refuses to kill Loren and the townspeople of Haven get killed off by the last plague.
  • Villainous Lineage: Doug reveals to Katherine that his family converted all the town of Haven to Satanism after they lost their faith.
  • Wham Line: As Katherine attempts to kill Loren, their conversation takes a turn for the worst.
    Loren: I'm so lucky.
    Katherine: Why?
    Loren: Because, silly— God gave me you.
    Katherine: How do I know? How do we know what's real?
    Loren: Faith.
    • And later, as Katherine and Loren are driving away together and Katherine promises that it will be "just the two of us".
    Loren: What about the boy?
    Katherine: What boy?
    Loren: The boy inside you. Your baby. I can hear him. We'll have to take care of him too.
  • Wham Shot: As flashbacks show, Brody attempted to kill Loren and stabs her. Only for her wound to miraculously heal and Brody's body to rapidly decay from evil.
    Father Costigan: (voiceover, as Loren stands in the bloody river next to her attacker's dead body) At the height of their power, God shall send forth an angel to destroy them.
    • At the end, as Katherine learns she is pregnant, she realizes that Doug actually raped her and impregnated her with the Antichrist.
    Father Costigan: (narrating voiceover, with Doug raping the unconscious and drugged Katherine in her sleep; when she originally thought she had awoken from an erotic dream) For all their sacrifice, they shall reap a perfect child — a second-born, who upon coming into adulthood shall be reborn with the eyes of Satan.
  • We Can Rule Together: Doug offers to let Katherine join him in his satanic cult but she refuses.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Doug tries to kill both Katherine and Loren during his villainous breakdown.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Katherine lost faith and became a Hollywood Atheist as a result of an ultimately disastrous expedition to Sudan that she and her family went on. Some religious people blamed her preaching for the year-long drought and both her husband and their young daughter were killed as sacrifices to their god.
    • The townspeople of Haven have no qualm against killing their own second born children once they've reached puberty in their satanic cult rituals.