Ever since The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby and The Omen scared the living snot of of me as a kid (we're talking early '80s here), I've been a huge fan of "occult" or "religious" thrillers. From the tackiest Italian knock-offs (The Antichrist, Beyond the Door, etc.) to the goofiest American re-treads (Audrey Rose, Abby, etc.), I scoured the video shelves and the cable channels, always hungry for just another small taste of what those three movies delivered. Heck, I even snuck into a forbidden matinee of The Seventh Sign back in '88 -- so obviously we're talking about a kid who really wanted to find a few new religio-thrillers to enjoy.

But nowadays, after more than two decades searching for another Exorcist or Omen, I think I've been officially cured of my affections for this particular sub-genre. I blame the filmmakers, frankly, for hewing too closely to established formula and aiming to ape "the big three" without ever forging any new or exciting ground. (If you want to get more specific, I believe it was somewhere between End of Days, Stigmata, Bless the Child and The Exorcism of Emily Rose that I truly gave up -- and last year's remake of The Omen acted as a sign that I'd made the right move.) But don't think I walked into The Reaping with my mind already made up. Hope springs eternal for the ardent horror fan, and every new movie that comes down the pike offers a small promise of something special. Or if not something special, then perhaps something slick and creepy and therefore appealing.

It took less than 20 minutes of Stephen Hopkins' aimlessly stupid The Reaping before I was ready to close the casket on the occult thriller forever. Not so much blatantly inept as it is plain old dreary and dull, The Reaping feels like a used car that was cobbled together out of spare parts stolen from Sleepy Hollow, The Wicker Man, Silent Hill, The Omen and (yes) The Seventh Sign -- with just a few little bits of CSI tossed in there to please the housewives. The Reaping is an aggressively silly affair, and one made all the more humorous for all the effort it makes to be serious. Suffice to say that the leading lady makes less of an impression than do her wide array of tank tops and perpetually in-focus cleavage.