The Offering Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Momentum Pictures
Written and directed by Kelvin Tong
2016, 95 minutes, Not Rated
Released on VOD on May 6th, 2016
Matthew Settle as Sam Harris
Elizabeth Rice as Jamie Waters
Paymelyn Chee as May Wong
Elizabeth Lazan as Ling Li
Supernatural horror films scare the shit out of me. Anything to do with possession, demons and spirits gets under my skin. As a nonbeliever, this may come to a surprise but hear me out for a second. The idea that someone or something can take control of your mind and body is horrifying. Add in some stuff about the end of the world and evil prophecies and you're well on your way to spinning your head and spewing vomit. All of my fears were realized when I first watched The Exorcist and few films have been able to replicate that feeling. Another case in point happens to be Kelvin Tong's The Offering.
Jamie Waters, a journalists, has just learned that her sister Anna has committed suicide. Traveling to Singapore to mourn with her niece Katie and ex brother-in-law Sam, Jamie discovers that Anna has recorded her death on her laptop, revealing more unanswered questions. As more people begin to kill themselves, will Jamie solve the mystery before she becomes a dark force's next intended target?
The Offering starts off by setting a great mood. Normally I'm not cheering for people to start offing themselves with plastic bags and ropes, but the shock value does a great job of pulling audiences in to see what will happen next. Jamie's story eventually crosses paths with a pair of priests who have found a message hidden in binary code, hinting to rise of the Tower of Babel and the demon Leviathan. If that sounds like its a lot to swallow for a movie with only and hour and a half run time, you're absolutely correct. Because there are all these competing factors in one film (technology, demons, biblical mythology) the story is very choppy and not enough focus is given to any one plot-driving force. I was left wondering where the direction of The Offering was going, just before everything was rushed to an end.
Another very noteworthy thing to mention is the acting. While it is still well above the worst I've endured in a horror film, there was one thing that bothered me throughout The Offering. The characters barely react to the intensely scary things that they encounter. One scene in particular stands out, as Sam sees a demon inside their home and then cuts to him almost casually walking out of the house, calling for Katie that they have to leave. There is also a scene where a chick tears open her own chest and pulls her heart out, which looks pretty damn awesome. It's too bad that the characters act like they've dealt with demons before and it just happens to be another day. All of my criticisms aside, the special effects are on point. The ghostly figures, gore and the demon creature don't feel the least bit cheap. Now only if the same amount of effort was put into the plot and performances, then I'd be reviewing a much different movie.
The Offering is a good movie for those who are huge fans of films such as The Exorcist and The Conjuring. The influence from those two titles alone is apparent. There's even a head spin in there for good measure. While some may think that this is just a cheap money grab, I believe that they're just paying homage to the classics. Lackluster acting and too many plot points end up doing just the right amount of damage, however and this does little to want to give this one a replay. If you happen to come across The Offering, give it a view for some refreshing special effects. Follow through with a James Wan flick to leave a better taste in your mouth.