The Offering (2022) Review

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Originally shot as Abyzou, The Offering begins with the camera slowly moving through rooms filled with candles and symbols. A rooster jumps into view, only to have its throat cut as part of a ritual. But this isn’t some voodoo ceremony or satanic offering, this is Hasidic mysticism. And, like so many other forms of magic, it doesn’t end well for the practitioner.

Art (Nick Blood, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Still) has come home, hoping to reconcile with his much more Orthodox father Saul (Allan Corduner, The Sweeny, Disobedience). His wife Claire (Emily Wiseman, Winchester, The Pitch). has come along as well, although being told “Art may love you, but you’ll never be family” has made her less than enthusiastic about the trip. They hope the prospect of a grandchild will soften his attitude.

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We soon find out that the old man has indeed softened his opinions about Claire. But Art has ulterior motives for his visit, ones even Claire doesn’t know about. But that will soon be the least of their problems as a familiar-looking corpse is delivered to Saul’s funeral home.

“As longtime fans of the horror genre, Hank Hoffman and I dug into our Orthodox Jewish backgrounds to craft a story that takes the audience to a rich and unfamiliar world and shows how deep the roots of Judaic mysticism can go and how colourful the exploration of the esoteric can be, all while scaring the crap out of you.”

Jonathan Yunger

The Offering is a relative rarity in the genre, a film with its root in Jewish culture and tradition. The only other recent ones I can think of are The Vigil, The Golem, and going back to 2015, Demon. I’m not sure why that is, but it lends a sense of unfamiliarity to what is a fairly conventional piece of demonic horror as preparing the body for burial allows Abyzou, known as The Taker of Children, to escape and it sets its sights on Claire and the child she’s carrying.

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And The Offering does indeed offer up the signs we’ve come to expect, lights going out, mysterious fog, a prowling camera, whispering voices, and of course, nightmares. Saul’s assistant Heimish (Paul Kaye, Game of Thrones, Tollbooth) uncovers Art’s real reasons for visiting putting everyone at each other’s throats and kicking the personal drama back into the plotline.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from The Offering, but writer Hank Hoffman, working from a story by producer Jonathan Yunger (Rambo: Last Blood, Till Death) delivers a script much of which could be set in a Christian family with very few changes. Since both men come from Orthodox Jewish backgrounds I was hoping for more substantial differences. Even the demon, when we see it has a familiar horned, goatlike appearance. It’s nicely designed but the CGI is a bit on the weak side.

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Director Oliver Park makes his feature debut with The Offering. It comes after several well-received shorts, including “Vicious” which was included in the anthology A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio. He gets good mileage out of the material and delivers more than a few jumps through the first hour. The last act manages a couple of genuinely tense and creepy moments before it calls in  Chayim (Daniel Ben Zenou, 7 Days in Entebbe, Visa) a kabbalist, to fight the demon. Again, some of the details may be a bit different but the main ideas are familiar.

In the end, The Offering is an enjoyable tale of demonic doings. Just don’t expect anything radically different from what you’ve seen before. The Offering is playing as part of Fantastic Fest, you can check for showings and ticket information here. For those not attending, Decal will release it on January 13th.

Our Score
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