Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weeks Too Late: Thor, Wait No, Offspring

Offspring (decidedly NOT Thor). Directed by Andrew van den Houten & Written by Jack Ketchum.

Preconceptions: Well, my little sweetmeats, it was my intention to bring you something unusually timely this week. I had purchased tickets to see Thor, a movie that I'm surprisingly excited to see (I mean really, Thor?). Unfortunately, a labyrinthine clusterfuck of roadwork left me nearly an hour late to my showing and sullenly eating food court swill instead of the ambrosia that is movie theater popcorn. And, much along the same lines, you now have to listen to me talk about Offspring instead of Thor. Alright, I was a tiny bit excited to see Offspring since it was put out by Ghost House, the same offshoot production company that brought me Seventh Moon. I wasn't nearly as interested in Offspring, but I did have some hope of a second good horror movie.

General Review: Ha-Ha! Of course it wasn't a second good horror movie. Once again, the genre has pulled away the football after cruelly giving me a kick at Seventh Moon (I think this metaphor has gotten away from me). Yes, Offspring was deeply and unbearably abysmal. In the year I've been doing this blog, this is the first time I've thought to myself "I should just turn this off." Typically, if a movie is good, I get to enjoy a good movie and if a movie is terrible I start crafting my mean spirited jokes. Not so with Offspring. It was well under the hour and a half mark, but it still managed to be a test of endurance. It trotted out most every cliche you can think of. A woman actually screams "my baby!". A retired (doubtless too old for this shit) police officer is saved from a stab wound by his trusty drunkard's flask (not to be confused with my baker's shot-glass, which is classy). A young boy fearlessly leads his crying, helpless mother (he's the man of the family now, naturally). Seriously, I was waiting for the "it's quiet, too quiet" speech. This movie wouldn't have been relevant if it'd been made 30 years ago and there is no excuse for this type of lazy writing now. What's more, the writer of the screenplay is the author of the book this was based on. This was how he wanted it to be written. This was Ketchum's vision.

Okay, before I go any further I guess I should tell you what this movie is about (and I use "about" loosely) because I sure as hell don't want you to go see it. A family of cannibals, probably descended from an evil lighthouse keeper, roam up and down the coast, eating townsfolk and baffling both American and Canadian police alike. They also have some kind of religion that makes them want to kill babies (you say religion, I say that screaming noise they make in movie theaters). Various people run away from and hunt for the cannibals.

Offspring seems to be half halfheartedly set in the 80's, at least the fashion and hair choices were. I mean just look at this guy (who, by the way, is given some 50 odd evil qualities: he abandoned his son, he's abusive to his ex-wife and oh, if that wasn't enough he's also a rapist. YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO LIKE HIM):

But despite the quasi-1980's setting, some characters have modern cell phones (though not the police force who are utterly time warped). I don't know what the costuming and setting sensibility was supposed to be, but pretending to be an older movie didn't make me any more likely to excuse its many many flaws.

For a movie almost entirely devoid of character development and plot, it sure had a sizable cast. We have the cannibal family, their captives, the police force (including a heroic chief and the retired drunk), the good guy family and the broken home family (including the would-be rapist). Not one of them becomes anything more than a cardboard cut out of a character. Though one mere morsel of praise, Pollyanna McIntosh was the only one who managed (by sheer strength of charisma) to raise her character from cut out to sock puppet. She had some presence, despite being hampered by every conceivable angle.

I know you're saying to yourselves, Wren, this is just a slasher flick, sure it wasn't good but maybe you should relax. To that I respond: No. No. No. Yes, Offspring doesn't have a whole lot of illustrious company; horror in general and slashers specifically can be rough. But this was a cut below. It lacked the simple things that make a movie watchable. It lacked characters and cleverness. It was utterly without spark, originality, interest or even basic internal consistency. It barely made sense, and this is coming from someone who loves dimension bending ghost stories. Since I embarked on this blog, I've seen some real dreck, but this (to paraphrase Homer Simpson) is the worst movie I've seen...so far.

Ahem, so yes, don't see Offspring. And with this bile out of my system, be prepared for an exciting look at Thor next week (only a few weeks too late this time!).


  1. I googled Pollyanna McIntosh. How is it that this woman has never played a Vulcan? Someone needs to tell JJ.

  2. She'd be GREAT as a Vulcan Priestess Matriarch type. She had a surprising presence given the company she was keeping.