The Offering starts off like any other horror movie. A shadowy figure runs across the screen in what is the first of many jump scares. But as the camera pans around the room, it becomes clear this film may be familiar, but there is something different going on here. Art (Nick Blood) is the son of a Hasidic funeral director who has returned to his childhood home with his pregnant wife, Claire (Emily Wiseman). He wants to reconcile with his father and plan for his future. An ancient evil soon intrudes on their lives.
Jewish horror is responsible for some of the oldest and influential stories. Surprisingly, it has been underrepresented until recent years. Director Oliver Park turns to Jewish mysticism instead of familiar tales. “Looking at is from some angles, it is an in enormous pressure to work in Jewish horror,” Park said. “But it was a dream to work with it.”
The Offering does not shy away from scares. For some, one of the strongest arguments against the movie is its reliance with jump scares. There is not denying how tense the film is. Even as it tells its multi-themed story, it does not give the audience many chances to catch their breath. Every scare is just around the corner. This is seen most in the ending which may be get a little too clever for its own good.
What saves things from being just another horror movie is the focus on the characters and storytelling. As scary as things can get, time is also spent on the family drama and themes surrounding religion. “It’s funny, Nick and I do not particularly enjoy watching horror,” stated Wiseman. In order to prepare for the role, Wiseman became familiar with the Orthodox Jewish community. For his part, Blood also did research, before “mining the script for motivation.”
This care is seen throughout The Offering. As Blood added, the film is not “mocking anything” while Wisemen mention she was able to learn things about Jewish horror that “gave depth” to what was explored. The story elements are fantastic; for some, it will just be a matter of whether the genre tropes went too far.
The Offering comes to television and digital January 13
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