'The Offering': Film Review

Courtesy of Entertainment One
A lamentable mishmash of horror tropes.

Are binary's ones and zeroes the language leading to the apocalypse?

Did the inventors of binary computer code inadvertently undo the work God did when he kiboshed the Tower of Babel? Is suicide actually a clever cure for rare diseases? Must messages from the spirit realm always come in anagrams and ancient symbols, or might they occasionally just say what they mean? Such never-before-asked questions are at the heart of The Offering, Kelvin Tong's claptrap-filled thriller set in Singapore. Horror auds should find this offer easy to refuse, both in theaters and on vid.

At the risk of oversimplifying a plot stuffed with everything from cyberwar to old-fashioned exorcism, this is the story of Jamie (Elizabeth Rice), who must go to Singapore when her sister commits suicide and care for the dead woman's daughter. Mother and daughter shared a hereditary disease that Jamie may have as well, but that's the least of their worries, especially since the girl is confident that Mommy will keep her promise and return from the dead in seven days.

That week is a long one, full of haunted-house moments, arcana-stuffed messages from the spirit realm and cutaways to two priests who believe the Tower of Babel is somehow rising anew. Magic telescopes and non-magic iPhones can see what the human eye cannot here, offering scenes of horrors from generations past, but Tong employs so many shock cuts and grating music cues viewers will likely find their curiosity fading quickly. What it all adds up to is either laughably baffling or just plain laughable, depending on how much attention one has paid.

Distributor: Entertainment One
Production company: Boku Films
Cast: Elizabeth Rice, Matthew Settle, Adina Herz, Adrian Pang, Colin Borgonon
Director-screenwriter: Kelvin Tong
Producers: Kat Goh, Peter Poon, Leon Tong
Executive producers: Alvin Chau, Andre Morgan, Alex Tong
Director of photography: Wade Muller
Production designer: Daniel Lim
Costume designer: Irin Lee
Editor: Olly Stothert
Composer: Joe Ng

Not rated, 95 minutes