Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta‘s The Leftovers (HBO, 6.29) is basically about a rapture-like event in which 2% of the world’s population (roughly 143,000,000 souls) suddenly vaporizes. Or “ascends,” if you’re a believer. Based on Perotta’s 2011 novel, it would appear to be a close relation of Michael Tolkin‘s The Rapture (’91), hands down the most horrific film about born-again Christians ever made. The pilot was directed by Peter Berg. The lead costars are Justin Theroux (what’s be been doing besides lying around with Jennifer Aniston?), Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler and Ann Dowd.

A half-hour ago the U.S. population was 317,947,517 — 2% suddenly disappearing would mean an out-of-the-blue absence of 6,358,950 people. The world population is 7,162,622,670 so a 2% reduction would be roughly 143,000,000. Honestly? There are too many on the globe as it is so a 2% reduction isn’t such a bad thing. How about 10% of the population ascending to Heaven? How about 20%? The more the merrier. As long as I don’t get picked, I mean.

The Leftovers is sort of an Our Town for End Times,” a Chicago Sun Times review declared. “Perrotta, our Balzac of the ‘burbs, has come up with a wild premise. Suddenly, a huge number of people vanish from this earth. The only explanation is that The Rapture has occurred, He narrows his affectionate and gently satiric focus to the middle-American village of Mapleton and shows us a bunch of folks trying to get on with their lives. The novel intertwines these stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off.”

The Rapture is a thinking-man’s horror flick, and one of the most chilling and profoundly creepy films ever — a perfect bitchslap directed at Godfreaks and the religious right. It weirded me out on a level that I didn’t fully comprehend at first. So much so that I’ve only watched it twice. It’s not what you’d call a ‘pleasant’ film, but it sinks in and spreads a strange malevolent vibe — a profound unease, disquiet — into your system. — from a 9.30.12 HE piece.