I may be crude, crass, and cuss a lot, but if it’s one thing I try to do it’s manage my language to make sure that I’m not juvenile in my critique. “Critique” is the most important factor here. It’s not easy to articulate opinions in a way that will connect with everyone, especially for 1000+ words. The “whys” are important since saying that something is good or bad isn’t good enough. I do my best to explain my feelings regarding each movie in a way that hopefully resonates with some. Even if you don’t agree with my opinions and arguments, if you can see where I’m coming from, then that alone would give you more of an informed opinion of a given movie. But sometimes a movie comes along that can’t be described this way. Sometimes a movie can be easily summed up with the vernacular of an angry twelve year old…
Guys, ‘The Offering’ is fucking dumb. Like, REALLY fucking dumb.
Let’s start off with a quick plot summary, because this movie starts off as plain ol’ boring before the stupid kicks in. We’re first introduced to the B plot where Father James DeSilva (Colin Borgonon) fucks up an exorcism causing a man to die. How do we know it was his fault? Because we’re told. Literally, the line “this is your fault” is used. The movie then cuts to reporter Jamie Waters (Elizabeth Rice) who finds out that her sister is dead, thus she hauls ass to Singapore to find out what happened. Cue mystery!
Before I continue, let’s talk about immersion for a second. Being immersed in a movie helps audience goers suspend their disbelief by creating a world that, while not 100% accurate, feels real. Breaking the immersion of a film make suspending disbelief harder, especially when the plot decides to go coo coo bananas and implode on itself. Writer/director Kelvin Tong is from Singapore, the movie was filmed on location in Singapore, yet this movie decides the best locations to film in are the ones that look like Generic-ville South Carolina. Somehow this film managed to film on location, yet feel like they used American locations to save money. Bravo ‘The Offering’. That’s a fuck up worthy of applause.
The story lumbers along, somehow being both confusing and boring. There’s a lot going on in each plot thread, yet none of it is explained very well. I’m sure this is done deliberately to make the reveal a big “ah ha!” moment, but instead it just becomes a muddled mess. Try to follow this: Jamie and her sister’s ex-husband Sam Harris (Matthew Settle) piece together a bunch of random clues to uncover that her sister’s suicide is connected to other cases. These include a ghost haunting the house, a mysterious symbol, anagrams (which are actually jumbles, not anagrams, but it’s what they say), and the child of Jamie’s dead sister, Katie’s (Adina Herz) Huntington’s Disease (more on this later). Meanwhile, Father DeSilva and Father Matthew Tan (Adrian Pang) uncover a cyber attack against Church websites. The Amazing Padres find out that the cyber attacks are connected to the Tower of Babel, which is the story about the spreading of different languages from a single universal language, as well as the Leviathan, a sea monster from the book of Job.
All of this information is hard enough to take in, yet the movie decides to take the “fuck you” one step further by having one of the most stilted scripts imaginable. The writing goes out of it’s way to awkward, literally stopping the scene to explain what you’re seeing. I’m not talking about ‘The Big Short’ kind of scene stopping where there’s a nudge and a wink because the movie is trying to explain a real problem to the layman. ‘The Offering’ doesn’t believe the audience knows what little things like an anagram or binary code is so it forces a FULL explanation into the scene. Sure, maybe the audience doesn’t know exactly how each topic works, but they have enough of a passing knowledge to understand what a movie is trying to convey when they’re brought up.
As if it wasn’t bad enough, the movie doesn’t even know what it’s talking about. The anagram problem is annoying but it’s a small issue (an anagram is a new word or phrase made from the starting word or phrase, not a jumble of nonsense that makes a real word). Now, I’d like to bring up the movie’s treatment of Huntington’s disease. I don’t know whether the director was directly affected by the disease and wanted to bring attention to it, or if he figured “here’s a thing no one has used yet” and just ran with it. Based on how it’s portrayed, I can only assume that Kelvin Tong is too inept to portray it properly, or he’s an asshole who didn’t research it enough.
There are three stages to Huntington’s, though just like any other disease, this is more of a guideline and not hard certainty. In the early stage, there are changes coordination and movement, mood alteration, and difficulty thinking through problems. The middle stage brings on involuntary movements that may require medication and/or therapy. Difficulty with speech or swallowing may occur at this time. In the final stage, the patient is completely dependent on others. They will no longer be able to walk or speak, though they will still be able to comprehend language and the awareness of family and friends.
Sounds pretty bad right? Well, none of the characters that have it show any symptoms. Hell, Katie had a feeding port installed because she was having trouble swallowing. If it got to that point, wouldn’t she have shown more symptoms of the disease, especially since juvenile Huntington’s sufferers progress faster? The answer is yes, don’t let Kelvin Tong answer that for you. According to this movie, if you have mid stage Huntington’s, then you can still run around the house getting into shenanigans instead of, you know, losing coordination, falling and dying of infection. Instead of bringing an awareness to an issue that affects 30,000 people and potentially affects 200,000, it’s used as a crutch to make you feel bad for poorly written characters that are as bland as bread sandwiches with ice soup.
Way to go asshole.
So we’ve got shitty characters with shitty dialogue in a shitty story that’s as boring as it is baffling. Where do we go from here? Get ready to crash head first into a wall of stupid because I’m going to SPOIL the shit out of this ending. The review officially ends here. It’s garbage. Don’t see it. I just REALLY want you to know how dumb this story gets.
The big mystery of the movie is SURPRISE! The devil is doing everything. I say the devil because it appears that ‘The Offering’ is using the Middle Age Christian interpretation of what the Leviathan is (a symbol for the devil) instead of what every other interpretation which is a fucking sea monster. So this pseudo-sea monster is using binary code to trick people with life altering conditions to commit suicide THROUGH THE INTERNET with the false promise that in seven days they will be reborn without their condition (evidently this movie’s universe doesn’t have ‘The Ring’). By getting people to kill themselves, somehow this will rebuild the tower of Babel.
Why the tower of Babel? Not sure. Babel is a city in the Bible and they did build a tower whose “whose top is in the heavens”. I guess ‘The Offering’ took this literally (as most people do), meaning that it was building a literal tower. Yet the tower wasn’t literally built, otherwise this would be a zombie movie. So it’s both literal and not literal at the same time. In any case, that means that the Leviathan was…hoping to go to heaven? For what? Hook up God’s wi-fi? Or was it trying to reunite the languages? Everyone would talk like a robot since the language would be binary, but that’s not a bad thing. The fuck was the point?
As far as possession movies about about a sea monster invading the internet to build a tower goes…this one is the worst. And I know it’s the only one, yet somehow it’s still worse than all the other ones not yet dreamed up. The only enjoyment I got out of it were a few scenes that were so baffling I didn’t believe it actually happened (there’s a jump scare with an old fashioned diving suit with a stock scream ADRed in). Beyond those fleeting moments, ‘The Offering’ doesn’t OFFER anything!
(You see what I did there?!? What’s that? It was terrible and lazy? Well, now you know how I feel.)