The Rapture (1991) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes in white:

Complete spoilers

I often complain that too many movies are safe, formulaic, and afraid to deal with any serious ideas.

After having watched this film, which cannot be accused of any of those flaws, I'm starting to think that originality and daring are overrated.

Mimi Rogers plays a lusty swinger who has a tedious day job as a telephone operator. Wild nocturnal sex helps her survive a life filled with boring, endlessly repetitious days. As the film progresses, however, she comes to the realization that she doesn't really like her wild nights any more than her mild days, and it dawns on her that her life is filled with ennui and anomie and all that existential French stuff, and that she needs something more.

Enter religion. She starts to overhear conversations between evangelical Christians about Judgment Day, the rapture, the "pearl of great price" which is seen in the dreams of the chosen, and "the boy" - a juvenile prophet who seems to know God's will. Mimi starts to pretend that she has been born again, just because she needs God in her life, but the Christian cultists know that she is faking. The fact that they could spot her chicanery intrigues her - if they can spot false claims immediately and conclusively, then they must know which claims are genuine! If there are genuine revelations from God, then the whole religious experience must be real. God must be real. From this thought process, her apocryphal faith becomes genuine faith, and she becomes an extreme Christian, smiling ever placidly in God's love, and asking every stranger if he has taken Jesus into his heart. She even manages to convert one of her old swinging partners (David Duchovny) to Christianity, after which they marry and have a daughter, whereupon the plot jumps forward six years.

  • Crazy plot twist #1. A disgruntled former employee goes postal with a shotgun and kills Duchovny and several co-workers.

Mimi is distraught, but is apparently told by God that she will see her husband soon enough, since Judgment Day is nigh. In fact, God is quite specific in the instructions he gives Mimi in her dreams. Mimi is to flee to the desert with her daughter and await further instructions. When she gets to the desert, she hangs around for a while until God decides to use the ol' Abraham trick again, and instructs her to kill her daughter. This is God's equivalent of the SAT exam, a pre-screening for admission to his trusted circle. Sadly for Mimi, God has come up with a new variation on the test since Abraham's day, and does not stay her hand.

  • Crazy plot twist #2. God allows her to shoot her daughter with a pistol, and then has no further communication with her.

The police don't accept "following God's command" as a legal defense, so they toss Mimi in the local calaboose.

After those last two operatic plot twists, things have certainly gotten much crazier than they were earlier on the film, but the story is still grounded in reality. If the film ended right then and there, it would not be very lively, but would be a sad and fairly insightful commentary about a woman filling up the void in her life with religious belief. People really do this, of course, and the process is pictured in a reasonably realistic way (as far as I know). The film seems to show the extreme danger in religious fanaticism, leading ultimately to a woman's murder of her beloved daughter.

Then the film takes a truly wild right turn.

  • Crazy plot twist #3. How's this for a plot gimmick? The world ends.

It turns out that Mimi was not deluded in any way. Everything she believed was true, and it really was God who asked her to kill her daughter. The End Times are pictured precisely as described in The Book of Revelations, horsemen and all. Mimi is led to the gateway of heaven, where her daughter meets her and invites her to join the saved, provided that she professes her love for God.

Only one problem. She doesn't love God any more. She had been losing her faith upon consideration of the world's suffering, and she lost it completely after God asked her to kill her daughter. As the angelic spirit of the daughter fades from view, the ghastly girl pleads with her mother, "please, mommy, say you love God. If you don't, do you know how long you'll have to wait to see me and daddy in heaven?"

"Yes", says Mimi resignedly, followed by a very long pause and the single word, "forever".

She stands alone on a cliff, surrounded by blackness. The stygian void.

Fade to black. Roll credits.

No matter your opinion of this plot, you have to admit one thing. This is not a typical Hollywood formula picture. It runs with a truly crazed premise - "You know those people who knock on your door and ask you if you have accepted Jesus as your savior? The clean-cut ones with the eerie smiles and the cheap suits? Well, what if they are right?"

Atypical, unexpected elements of the film:

  • Mimi's religious fanaticism made her the object of the pity and laughter of her unsaved acquaintances, and even caused her to kill her daughter. Well, the laugh was on the acquaintances. She had been right all along.

  • Even though there have been millions of deranged cultists running around the world for centuries with signs saying "the end is near", she wasn't one of them. Oh, she looked like one of them, and she shared their beliefs, but there is a major difference. They were wrong.

  • Even the killing of her daughter was not really an act of madness, but was genuinely God's will. The police may have acted logically to assume that she was just another nutter acting on God's behalf, but they were wrong this time.

  • And then, in the final surprise, after all of her submission to God's will, she turned down paradise for all eternity, even if it meant never seeing her beloved husband and daughter again.

  • And the film just ended right then and there. Where else could it go? The world had ended, and she had refused paradise, so there wasn't much more to show.


  • Carole Davis shows her breasts from the side, and is nude from the rear, in a scene necessary to show off her elaborate full body tattoo.
  • Stephanie Menuez shows her breasts in a swingers' party.
  • Mimi Rogers shows her nipples from the side and exposes the top of her areolae in a shower scene.
  • NOTE: the descriptions above summarize the nudity in the widescreen DVD. The full screen VHS version shows Mimi's entire massive chest in the shower sequence. She faces the camera in perfect lighting. Unfortunately, this cannot be seen on the widescreen DVD
I think the premise is absolutely demented, but I have to admit grudgingly that I admire the courage of the film in carrying that bizarre premise to the proper and logical conclusions. Having said that, let me hasten to add that I am not a religious person, and I found this film to be utter gibberish. I really couldn't get into it even when I thought it was a work of social realism about our need for God and the negative effects which can result from that need. At that point I thought it was just a melodrama which also happened to be as pedantic as an after-school special.

When it turned out that all of her craziness was not crazy at all, the film lost me completely. The only thing I found truly effective was the last twenty seconds, which really surprised me and hooked me in emotionally, in the same manner as a surprise Twilight Zone ending.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1

  • full-length commentary by a team of people involved with this picture, including Mimi Rogers, David Duchovny, and the writer/director.

Roger Ebert gave this film four stars and praised it to the hilt. I have to say that I could not disagree more, and can't even imagine a thought process which could lead to four stars for this film, but Roger is a spiritual man and I am not, so you may be able to determine from that whether you will fall into my camp or his. In all fairness, the film is rated a most respectable 6.7 at IMDb, and received several other good reviews, so there were many in Ebert's camp, not so many in mine.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

As a quick recap, the first act portrays a woman who is a bored information assistance operator by day, and an unhappy swinger at night. In act two, she accepts Jesus as her personal lord and savior, gets married and has a child. Act three is the kicker, where her husband is killed, and she becomes convinced that God has called her to the rapture at a remote desert location. She takes her daughter, and waits for God, who is a no show.

Up to this point, the story seems grounded in a specific reality, namely, a lost soul who becomes a born again Christian. Is that interesting? I have to believe that anyone interested in the subject has had ample opportunity to learn all about it before now, so I will have to say no. The swinging of act one is much too mild to have an erotic entertainment value. The main character is neither remarkable enough, nor strange enough to help generate interest and make us care about her.

In act three, the filmmakers do an amazing job of trying to piss off every possible viewer. They shoot the daughter so she can be with God, then the end of the world does occur, but too late for our main character, as she no longer loves God, seeing him as way too cruel. She declines an eternity in heaven rather than change her mind. So, we kill a kid on camera, which has to upset a lot of people. Then, we say that Christianity has it right, and everything they preach is true, which should anger all non-Christians. Finally, we say that God is such an asshole that even a former believer will pass up an eternity in heaven to kiss his ass, and hence piss off the Christians as well.

Opening weekend box-office was strong, but the Thomas-Hill hearings, then the National League playoffs and the World Series killed the rest of the run. Roger Ebert, along with many other critics, was enthusiastic about it. It is bold and different, and act three is unpredictable. Is it enjoyable? I don't see how. For me, it was two acts of ho-hum, followed by one long "you have got to be kidding me." Yet, there is much to think about and talk about here. In the final analysis, I expect many of you would be curious to see it, but I doubt that many would willingly watch it twice.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Nominated for three Independent Spirit awards.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed about a million dollars.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "In our system, this is a C+ because it is a cult favorite with some rave reviews, but it's a film I found pedantic and boring in the first two thirds, then crazed and generally repellent in the last act." Tuna says, "This is a C-. It is technically a decent effort, and they did brig their vision to the screen, Whether or not you will feel enriched for having watched it is completely up to you."

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