For what appears to be his first time directing a full feature and writing a full feature, Oliver Park certainly does not shy away from the shock and awe factor while honing his craft into Jewish lore and horrors. For what feels like a cross between The Autopsy of Jane Doe and The Vigil should certainly prepare the audience for what they are getting themselves into, but truly nothing can be done to prepare for the absolute bonkers and downright terrifying brilliance of The Offering. Movies that seep themselves into lore have a little more of a map they have to follow due to having to not cross over into outlandish territory; they have to stay true to their lore’s roots, and if it does not do so, the movie tends to lose some of its intensity and even creditability. Thankfully though, The Offering plays its hand devilishly well and the intensity and perfection is amplified by the appropriate use of lore.
The film focuses on a man who’s recently passed away, stabbed by a demon and then possessed. He is brought to Saul (Allan Corduner), an undertaker in the Hasidic community. Unknown to Saul, his son Art (Nick Blood) and his pregnant wife Claire (Emily Wiseman) come back to Brooklyn to visit. Saul never questions why they are there, but there is something larger at foot. Art decides to look at the body of the deceased man himself, noticing the wear on his body, and notices a blue pendant around his neck. However, after Art is spooked by someone coming downstairs, the pendant falls in the drain on the floor and releases the demon. Art, being a conniving man, doesn’t tell anyone about the broken pendant, and when things start to happen around him, his father, and his wife, he still stays silent.
Hank Hoffman, who pens the script, is debuting with this terrifying, anxiety-riddled horror masterclass of The Offering, and is surely going to make a name for himself after this. Crafting the eeriness and possessiveness of Jewish lore and creating a tense horror film with side dishes of riveting family drama and truly heinous acts makes for one hell of an impact. While there are clear influences of The Autopsy of Jane Doe and The Vigil throughout the script, The Offering cements itself as its own product, and whenever you think you know what is coming next, the movie decides to flip you upside down and flick you for thinking you can uncover all of its secrets. So masterfully crafted and draped in some powerhouse performances, The Offering truly offers it all.
The performances throughout The Offering are what make the movie, however, the highlights are amongst the three leads — Allan Corduner, Nick Blood, and Emily Wiseman — who all give knockout performances. Their ability to capture and creep out the audience and make them feel the anxiety and intensity the film demands is truly captivating and creates the tense uneasy world that the audience can sink its teeth into.
Horror movies as a general concept usually have an aesthetic to them that brings the scares and fears more to the forefront past storytelling and performance. It is Lorenzo Senatore, the cinematographer, who creates this unsettling world that goes beyond the performances, beyond the script, and beyond the direction and allows audiences to get highly vested in this lush tapestry of visual brilliance, creating a new dimension of horror and awe as the demon creeps in between the lack of light and throughout the shadows, allowing audiences to capture glimpses here and there so they know something is lurking, never revealing itself too early, engaging itself in the horrors that truly await our unsuspecting cast.
Screening during Fantastic Fest 2022.
In theaters January 13th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official The Offering Fantastic Fest webpage.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5.
Categories: Films To Watch, In Theaters, Recommendation, Reviews
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