I almost regretted renting The Reaping as I carried it over the threshold of my living room. I assumed it would spill over with religious cliché and cheap thrills ("Oh no, why is she going in their ALONE?"). This ended up being true, but with a lot of pleasantly original twists.
The Reaping kept me guessing, "Who brought on these plagues? Is the little girl evil or good?" It all ends in an enlightening surprise ending in which everyone is exposed for who they really are.
The Reaping a few bits of sincere truth, such as the fact that there's a fine line between crazy cults and mainstream religion. Though the little town of Haven, Louisiana seems as devout as any town in the Bible Belt could be, a deceptive evil lurks in the people's hearts and minds.
** (warning: plot spoilers) **
The townspeople confide in their pious signs with "THE LORD" painted in all caps and people burning in hell. Their Baptiseque subculture seems to validate their religious ranting. But the "lord" they follow is another god altogether as one of the movie's main characters, Doug (David Morrissey) proudly confesses. They had learned to pray to a different god, "the true lord," who "really answers their prayers." It is sad to hear him admit this with such conviction.
The pivotal point in the movie occurs as the final plague rains down on the townspeople, when Katherine (Hillary Swank) finally realizes who is innocent and who is a pawn of Satan. Doug commands Katherine to kill the little girl, Loren, before all the firstborn (all the people in the town) are vaporized. He argues that the God she follows killed her family, therefore she should kill this girl who was sent by the same God. She responds with wonderful clarity that God didn't kill her family, but rather godless, insecure men killed her family, therefore she would not kill this little girl.
At one point Katherine waxes eloquent about the ridiculousness of miracles by recounting some "false miracles" in Egypt that turned out to be nothing more than environmental anomalies. This made me realize how silly secular science is. Here's a newsflash for secular scientists: Miraculous occurrences that can be explained through science are no less miraculous! Describing how the world easier and safer than explaining why the world works. The "how" is meaningless without the "why." In any case, scientific "how's" should lead us to the overarching "why," which is God's divine ingenuity. Of course, as far as this movie goes, Katherine's disbelief in the supernatural is annihilated by events as they unfold before her.