There are scares and scares in horror movies. There are very well prepared, funny, subtle or even playful, and interactive scares. But there are also lazy ones, who denote a conformism that serves to have a moderately fun time, but they don’t go further. It’s a shame that’The Offering‘, opening in theaters on January 27, do not aspire to more in your section of trying to be scary, because for everything else is a good sample of genre with unusual roots in the Hebrew legends.
Not only that, but also its director, Oliver Park, composes a good development of conflicts and art design around Hasidic rites. His feature film debut comes on the heels of several well-received shorts like ‘Vicious,’ and for a moment it makes us think there’s an elegant proposal, with certain airs of those commercial films of the 90s in which there was a visually stingy treatment, despite not being subject to the show.
A culturally different premise
And it is that the approach of ‘The Offering’ is quite interesting: Art (Nick Blood) has returned home hoping to reconcile with his much more orthodox father, Saul (Allan Corduner). His wife Claire (Emily Wiseman). He also accompanies him and we discover that the old man has softened his reticence about Claire. But Art has ulterior motives for his visit that not even Claire knows about, though that’s the least of his problems, as a dead body is delivered to the house’s morgue and brings with it an ancient evil.
The idea is different from other religious horror films due to its unusual collection on the big screen, although its strength lies in the relationships between characters, very defined by the culture of Orthodox Judaism, keeping moral issues at the heart of the story. Its approach to “terror in funeral homes” is similar to recent films such as ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’, ‘The Funeral Home’ or ‘Capse’, but it does not take advantage of its location like those.
The interesting thing is that, instead of the traditional Catholic movie with Lucifer as an adversary, bases its mythology on the Abyzou, a female demon from Jewish folklore responsible for miscarriages and deaths of babies, which also takes various forms in the film, one of which enjoys a great design and not too atrocious CGI, despite the fact that the most powerful elements of the creation is that the entity is able to play with the perception and reality of the cursed person.
Lazy fear of volume cap
Hank Hoffman, working from a story by producer Jonathan Yunger, delivers a script that could otherwise be set in any Christian family with very few changes. Given that both men come from Orthodox Jewish backgrounds, the film would have been strengthened by more substantial differences, but ends up being more generic than it promised, including all the promises of his worked starting position, which are weakened due to a very poor use of terror, based on scares that are more annoying than tense.
There is nothing worse than leaning too much on the volume and lazy shrillness to create fear, and this may be one of the worst versions of this type of resource that the public has seen perfected by authors like James Wan or films that take it to the sublime like ‘Smile’. However, here it is not only easy, but it lacks a variety of approaches, which is a shame because it dares to propose a coherent ending, not very common in productions aimed at large theaters.
‘The Offering’ is the latest example of the Jewish horror trend in recent years, with examples such as the dignified ‘Possession’ (2012), with the presence of the dybbuk, a new ‘The Golem’ (2018), the guards of the shomers in ‘The vigil’ (2019) or the recent ‘Lullaby’ (2022), about the demon Lilith; however this is the least stimulating of all of them, with extra frustration for a few production values and very professional finish that does not meet one’s own expectations that generate their first minutes. After a golden year for terror, 2023 has started lukewarm with the insufferable ‘M3gan’ and this missed opportunity.