The Reaping (2007)
The death of a child in mysterious circumstances sparks a series of events that seem to represent biblical plagues, which start occurring in, of all places, a town called "Haven" that is located deep in the bowels of Bible belt country in the bayous of Louisiana. A former Christian missionary turned religious phenomena debunker and her top open minded student turned personal assistant are sent to investigate.
The atheistic Katherine Winter is a former Catholic missionary that lost her faith on God after losing her daughter and her husband in Sudan, sacrificed by the locals that blamed them for the long drought. Presently she investigates religious phenomena with the intent of debunking them, finding a scientific cause for the event. She is invited to go to the small town of Haven, in Louisiana, where the river turned into blood after the death of a boy. After her arrival, each of one of the ten biblical plagues happens in the location dazing Katherine, who discloses the evil secret of the dwellers.
A former Christian missionary, who specializes in debunking religious phenomena, investigates a small town which seems to be suffering from the 10 biblical plagues.
- Father Costigan (Stephen Rea) find that his photo collection burning very selectively. When he puts them together, he finds they form a pattern of an upside down sickle, with a cross through it. This symbol is the inverted astrological symbol for Ceres (), thought to represent motherly love. When the symbol is inverted, as it is in this movie, it is believed by some to be a Satanic symbol.
Meanwhile in Concepción, Chile, Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank) and assistant Ben (Idris Elba) are investigating claims of a miracle. Upon exploring the area, Katherine uncovers a cache of hazardous waste illegally stashed in an underground oil well, which has ruptured and is causing the effects of the 'miracle', as well as infecting the local people.
When Katherine returns home to Louisiana, she receives a call from Father Costigan, who warns her that it was her face burning in his photographs and that it is a warning from God. Katherine ignores the warning. Doug (David Morrissey), a science teacher from the small town of Haven, begs Katherine's help in finding a reason for the local river turning red (1st plague), which the locals believe is a plague caused by a twelve year old girl who witnessed (and they think caused) her older brother's death. Doug says that the girl lives in an area that was abandoned by most of the townsfolk after it was hit by several hurricanes.
Katherine and Ben examine the river, and send a sample of the water to a lab to be analyzed. While there Katherine meets Loren McConnell (Anna Sophia Robb). They also bear witness to dead frogs falling into the lake (2nd plague), apparently out of the high trees. That evening they encounter flies (4th plague), which ruin their dinner, and disease (5th plague) which kills off all of Jim Wakeman's (David Jensen) cows. Katherine insists that there is a scientific explanation for all these plagues.
The town doesn't have a motel, so Doug invites them to spend the night at his house. That evening, the power goes out, and Katherine goes to Doug, who is outside at his wife's grave. The two exchange personal information on their histories, with Doug convincing Katherine to drink alcohol made by the locals. Katherine was once an ordained minister, and took her husband and daughter to the Sudan for missionary work. But after a year long drought, the locals sacrificed Katherine's family to God to get it to rain, leaving Katherine disillusioned. They eventually depart back to the house.
In a vision, Katherine and Doug, apparently succumbing to their growing feelings for one another, have passionate sex. As they do so, Katherine sees images of Loren, and her own tragic history as well, before waking up.
In the morning Katherine goes to the McConnells' house alone, where she finds the cult symbol carved on the walls. She meets Loren again and has a vision with some incomplete depiction of what really happened with Loren and her brother. She also meets Loren's mother, who asks Katherine to kill her daughter, and is then attacked by a maniacal Loren. Katherine is asked to get out by Loren's mother.
Meanwhile in town, Ben and Doug learn of the cult. Shortly after learning of the cult the test results return and prove that the river was in fact turned to human blood. The citizens are having to shave the heads of all their children due to a mass outbreak of lice (3rd plague) and degenerate into a mob, ready to go out and kill Loren themselves. Katherine insists that there is a scientific explanation for everything, and tries to stop the mob from killing Loren. Ben and Doug try to get the mayor to evacuate the town, but he and his staff are struck down with boils (6th plague) and so, helpless.
Against her better judgment, Katherine calls Father Costigan, who explains to her that the symbol he saw was that of a satanic cult. He informs her that they sacrifice every second born in an attempt to create "a perfect child", with "the eyes of the Devil" to bring them power. He also states that at some point, an angel, who cannot be harmed by the cult, will appear to destroy them. He insists that Loren is that "perfect child" in Satan's image (a rare look of a girl as the Anti-Christ) and the plagues may just be a trick of Satan to protect that child. He also tries to convince Katherine that she is the angel sent forth by God to destroy this cult, and hence she has to kill Loren. As he tells Katherine all this, a supernatural force begins to burn everything in Costigan's room, trapping him inside and killing him.
Desperate to find logical answers, Katherine goes to the McConnell house alone, where she finds the sacrificial chamber and cult symbols in a basement. She sees Loren's mother, who tells Katherine that "he controls her [Loren] now", then Loren's mother kills herself. Loren finds Katherine, but is distracted by the arrival of the townsfolk.
The sheriff and angry people of town gather around the McConnell house, preparing to attack and kill Loren, but suddenly thousands of locusts come to the area (8th plague). The locusts appear to be under Loren's control, and they swarm Small, his son and the sheriff, and kill them. The signs are getting harder to ignore, and Katherine begins to believe that the plagues do have a supernatural cause, and that she should kill Loren. Ben and Doug run away from the locusts, and Katherine locks herself inside the house to escape them. Ben hides in a crypt, and calls Katherine to say that he's trapped, since Loren is outside. Katherine hurries after him, knowing that she is the only one Loren trusts.
When she arrives and finds Ben dead, she confronts Loren. Darkness falls (9th plague) and fireballs shoot from the sky (7th plague). Katherine overpowers Loren and is about to kill her when they share a bit of a vision, which shows Maddie and Brody McConnell holding someone's arms down. Loren says she's lucky that God sent Katherine to her. They have a longer vision, of the cult trying to kill Loren, who was a second-born child. Loren escaped and her brother Brody stabbed her, but her wound miraculously instantly healed, and Brody died. Katherine realizes that Loren is innocent, that she didn't murder her brother, that the townsfolk are the evil ones, and that she has to protect Loren from them, rather than help them kill her. She realizes that Loren is the angel that God sent.
The townsfolk surround the two of them, and Doug tries to get Katherine to kill Loren. God is protecting Loren from the townsfolk, and only an ordained servant of God like Katherine can kill her. The townsfolk turned their back on God years ago after their town was hit by several hurricanes, and they invited Katherine to investigate the miracles because they hoped she would join them, since she had also turned her back on God after her family was killed. But Katherine remains on Loren's side, in part because she associates Loren with her own daughter, who was sacrificed to the Sudanese in a similar way to how these townsfolk are trying to sacrifice Loren. She also realizes that Doug was the one who killed Ben, and that he framed Loren to try to get Katherine to kill her.
Katherine reminds them that because they had sacrificed generations of second-borns, the town was comprised exclusively of first-borns. At this stage, the fire begins raining down on the townsfolk, killing them (10th plague). Doug holds a knife to Katherine's throat, telling her that if Loren is not killed, she will die too. Katherine tells Loren that she shouldn't be afraid, because this is God's will. This proves that Katherine finally believes again. Doug tries to use Katherine as a shield, but Loren manipulates the fire to destroy Doug, while sparing Katherine.
The movie ends with Katherine and Loren driving away together. Katherine says that they will be a family and it will be just the two of them. Loren, with her own abilities, tells Katherine it will be three: her, Katherine and the baby she is carrying. Katherine is pregnant with Doug's son, the knowledge of which causes Katherine to remember when she envisioned herself with Doug that night: Doug, as part of the community's attempts to create a demon baby, gave Katherine alcohol spiked with an intoxicant. After drinking it and becoming near-comatose, Doug proceeded to strip and rape her, and remove all evidence before she woke up the next day with no memory. Katherine fears her son may be the prophesied demonic child.