The Offering - New Release Review
Director: Oliver Park
Starring: Nick Blood, Emily Wiseman, Allan Corduner, Paul Kaye
Written by: Hank Hoffman
Produced by: Les Weldon, Yariv Lerner, Jeffrey Greenstein, Jonathan Yunger, Hank Hoffman, Sam Schulte
Cinematography by: Lorenzo Senatore
Original Score by: Christopher Young
The son of a Hasidic funeral director returns home with his pregnant wife in hopes of reconciling with his father. Little do they know that directly beneath them in the family morgue, an ancient evil lurks.
The film opens with an elderly man stabbing himself in the chest after a failed attempt to banish some sort of demon (in the guise of a young girl), but his suicide ends up trapping the demon inside him, or rather the amulet he is wearing. Nothing subtle about where we are going here. We're about to embark on some demonic haunting and/or possession. I'm kinda torn about the rest of the film because while it is very generic in parts, it did offer up some genuinely creepy sequences and a pretty cool monster, that I think we see too early.
Art (Nick Blood) and his heavily pregnant wife Claire (Emily Wiseman) visit the family funeral parlour in Brooklyn in order to reconcile with Art's father Saul (Allan Corduner). Secretly Art has made a deal to sign over the home and business to save him from his crippling debts, something that suspicious Heimish (Paul Kaye) finds out about that helps to cement his original mistrustful thoughts about Art's random arrival.
Upon arriving Art is asked to help out with a new corpse, which just happens to be the elderly man from the opening sequence, and instantly he begins to experience some supernatural anomalies. And from this moment on the film follows the structure of a traditional ghost story with Art and Claire both suffering from visions and dreams. All of these traditional supernatural elements are sinisterly brewed with Jewish folklore, of which I know zero about, and it makes for a moderately compelling story.
Sadly the tropes are all there. Unoriginal jump scares and nightmares are a little overused and the inclusion of a pregnant woman whose child is at risk has been done to death. That being said there are some interesting scenes and the film has a mischievous atmosphere which is good enough to peak interest. There's one moment where Claire is using a camera and it's really well paced and shot. I wanted more tense scenes like this. It feels like this film could easily exist under the banner of Blumhouse or James Wan, albeit without the edgy, snappy editing. The CGI is mostly really good although as mentioned above I would've liked more ambiguity surrounding the monster reveal. I can't lie about the lore of the story either, it kind of lost me a bit towards the third act.
If you enjoy demonic possession type films with interesting monsters then give this one a go and even though the cast are all good (Paul Kaye's accent is ridiculous though) there's not a lot of originality in here and the script feels a little bit like a copy and paste job.
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- Gavin Logan
'The Offering' will be released by Decal in selected theatres in the US and be available to rent on VOD from January 13th.