The Offering, review: an "intelligent but doesn't apply" horror

The Offering, review: an intelligent but doesn't apply horror

The Offering, review

Despite the convenience of streaming, the experience of watching a horror film at the cinema has always had a completely different flavor. Creepy images wrapped in darkness, creepy sounds at full volume… And the fear of turning around and noticing a strange grin on the face of your seat neighbor. Is that also the case with The Offering? The horror film written by Hank Hoffman and directed by newcomer Oliver Park arrives in Italian cinemas on February 23, 2023.

The Offering Produced in the USA and shot in Bulgaria, the new product from Millennium Media and Nu Boyana Film Studios is based on a short story by Hoffman himself, co-written with Johnatan Yunger. The signature of the composer Christopher Young stands out, who sees great fame in the horror film and television scene: Nightmare on Elm Street 2 , The Grudge , Sinister , Pet Semetary and much more. If you want to give an answer to the initial question, to understand whether The Offering is worth a horror experience in a room, it can be found exactly in the middle.

The Offering: A world we know little about

Hoffman's story is based on the Jewish folk story of Abyzou, a female demon nicknamed the “child thief”. It is said that this creature, being sterile, envies pregnant women and wants to take possession of the offspring at all costs. Set in the present day, The Offering tells the story of Arthur (Nick Blood) and his pregnant wife Claire (Emily Wiseman). The protagonist returns to his birthplace to his father Saul (Allan Corduner), a practicing orthodox Jew and funeral clerk. The life of the young couple is very different from that of Saul's community, and in an attempt to reconcile the two worlds the child thief is lurking.

The Offering It is not the first time that the subject of a horror story is Jewish life and religion; already there is Ole Bordedal's The Possession with Jeffrey Dean Morgan , produced by none other than Sam Raimi , one of the fathers of Spider-man , and currently only available on Blu-ray . Yet that 2014 film faces this world little by little, only at the end, without ever going into too much detail; here, on the other hand, the viewer is shown numerous religious practices of a community that, perhaps, he does not know enough.

The work of Park and his team consists of meticulous research into the Jewish religion, then transposing it onto the big screen : from rituals to beliefs, from traditions to everyday life, like a typical food cooked by Saul for his daughter-in-law. From this point of view, therefore, it is not a question of the usual "Americanata", but of a careful documentary.

Many ways to tell a horror story

The story takes place almost entirely in the great house of Saul, which is also a place of meeting and worship. The attention to the rich props design is incredible, with a preference for all those furnishings capable of giving the idea of ​​a lived-in environment, which can tell a story. Even the morgue is an integral part of the home, a place where, symbolically, life and death meet .

It is here that the demonic sphere gives its first signs, and Oliver Park, together with the director of photography Lorenzo Senatore, tries to visualize them with precise stylistic choices. First of all, the use of the subjective. Frequently Arthur, intent on helping his father, looks at a corpse, but the camera is placed right in the latter's eyes, turned towards the face of the "prodigal son" as if the body could observe him from beyond, as if it were a creature still alive, but placed in another world.

The Offering With a few exceptions, The Offering does not abuse the use of jump scare, and this is certainly a compliment. Often the atmosphere of horror is conveyed through sound rather than sight. Intense and sinister whispers, subdued cries for help: the viewer almost seems to hear them in the head, just like the characters do. A frequent state of horror that places the mind between reality and hallucination.

The Offering happened halfway

We could say that The Offering emerges between lights and shadows. Despite its peculiarities, some elements do not play exactly in favor. Although we appreciate the choice to focus on a world that has not yet been investigated in cinema, some narrative devices are not extremely original, with the exception of the final twist that is truly able to leave you speechless and cause those long-awaited shivers behind your back. almost absent up to that moment.

The narrative rhythm is stimulating, especially in the first half of the film, however it is as if something is missing, as if some fundamental junctions have not been fully explored. Occasionally, and for precise reasons, the use of CGI is resorted to which, unfortunately, breaks the scenic illusion, making the horror film too "fake", without the possibility of totally immersing oneself or really being frightened. Almost all the characters arouse little empathy with the exception of Saul, perhaps the only really interesting one, whose psychological characterization is captured.


The Offering is an experiment that does not tend towards neither good nor evil. It starts from different intentions than usual, with a direction that stands out for some really interesting finds, yet the film ends up getting lost in a glass of water, penalizing aspects that should instead have been strengthened, such as the most important one: instilling fear. Some symbolic stylistic choices well rendered on a technical level are appreciated, but evidently they are not enough to speak of The Offering as a satisfying product. In short, Oliver Park's debut on the words of Hank Hoffman is exactly in the middle: a product that wants to be intelligent, but which does not fully exploit its potential.

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