The Reaping appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Perhaps the presence of about 140 minutes of video footage was too much for a single-layered DVD to handle, as Reaping looked less impressive than I’d expect.
Sharpness occasionally took a hit. Though daylight shots showed pretty good definition, other scenes tended to be somewhat soft and fuzzy. The lack of delineation never seemed terrible, but the movie sometimes lacked the anticipated crispness. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, but I noticed mild edge enhancement through the flick. I also discerned a grainy quality that I thought resulted from compression artifacts.
Just like every other modern horror flick, Reaping went with a stylized palette. It tended toward a desaturated look that favored a sandy appearance much of the time. It also threw in some heavy reds for effect. The colors appeared fine, though some of the thicker hues could be a little too dense. Blacks were somewhat muddy, while shadows tended to appear a bit murky and opaque. This wasn’t a bad transfer overall, but it didn’t look as good as it should have so I gave it a disappointed “C+”.
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Reaping proved quite satisfying. All those plagues meant lots of uses for the different speakers, and the soundfield took good advantage of them. From swarms of insects to thunderstorms to fire to other nasty elements, the various pieces showed up in logical spots and meshed together smoothly. The movie used the spectrum in an encompassing manner that accentuated the action.
For the most part, audio quality was solid. A few lines sounded a little flat, but dialogue usually seemed natural and concise. Music displayed nice definition and range, while effects were lively and dynamic. Those elements showed good reproduction along with deep, tight bass. The audio of The Reaping did well for itself.
In terms of extras, we get four featurettes. Science of the Ten Plagues lasts 15 minutes, 59 seconds as it mixes movie clips with comments from Professor of Old Testament Terence Fretheim, Chair of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion R. Joseph Hoffmann, paranormal investigator Joe Nickell, epidemiologist Dr. John S. Marr, material sciences Professor Colin Humphreys, and Director of the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Center Professor Bill McGuire. The program looks at scientific explanations for the Old Testament plagues that the Bible purports afflicted Egypt. The movie offers a quick synopsis of these theories, but they get greater exposition here. This makes for an intriguing view of famous events.
Next comes The Characters, a six-minute and 59-second piece. It includes notes from director Stephen Hopkins, producers Joel Silver and Herb Gains, writer Brian Rousso, and actors Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba and AnnaSophia Robb. This featurette examines the different roles in the film. Basically the comments just reiterate information you’ll find in the movie. A few minor tidbits emerge, but it’s not a particularly useful program.
A Place Called Haven fills five minutes, two seconds with info from Rousso, Swank, Hopkins, Silver and production designer Grace Walker and location manager Peter J. Novak. The program looks at the movie’s sets and locations as well as the effect of Hurricane Katrina. It’s a quick but decent overview of those topics.
Finally, The Reaping: The Seventh Plague goes for one minute and eight seconds. We hear from Elba as he talks about how much he hated working with insects. There’s not much here, though the short chat is moderately interesting.
On the “Special Features” screen, you’ll find an Easter egg. Click right from “Main Menu” to find a three-minute and six-second clip. This piece tells us that Robb was inspired to write a story called Back Seat Swamp during the shoot, and we hear that tale. It ain’t great, but it’s more entertaining than The Reaping.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Michael Clayton, Gametap, I Am Legend, Return to Haunted Hill and Believers. No trailer for Reaping appears here.
Hilary Swank needs a new agent. She might have two Oscars, but they apparently can’t save her from witless dreck like The Reaping, a scare-free and barely watchable horror tale. The DVD offers surprisingly mediocre picture quality and only a few minor extras, but the audio works well. A good soundtrack can’t redeem a bad movie, though, so I can’t find any reason to recommend this flick.