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’The Offering’ review: Dir. Oliver Park [Fantastic Fest]

For decades, horror cinema has been saturated with films exploring Christianity. The religion has been utilised to tell thousands of tales of haunted houses and demonic possessions. There are of course far more religions in the world, each having their own way of handling demons and other evil entities. As the film industry slowly starts to become more diverse, so too are the stories being presented. A key, relatively new movement, has been the Jewish horror film. In 2019 there was a flurry of them with The Vigil, The Golem, and Hanukkah all capturing attention. Now comes another – The Offering. 

The Offering

Directed by Oliver Park, The Offering (also known as Abyzou) primarily takes place within the walls of a Jewish Funeral Home. Before arriving at this location, The Offering opens with a Jewish man doing battle with some sort of malevolent creature. Clearly in the process of trying to vanquish the being, the man goes to extreme lengths to achieve his goal. It’s an intense start and one that could easily be the climax of any other similarly themed film. It grabs your attention immediately and, most importantly, forewarns of the danger that is about to unfold.

Art (Nick Blood) and his pregnant wife Claire (Emily Wiseman) arrive at Art’s childhood home. There they meet Art’s estranged father, Saul (Allan Corduner). The two men have been at odds with one another for years, a key issue being that Art married outside of the Jewish faith. Claire is hoping to build some bridges with her father-in-law; Art however, has some ulterior motives for the visit. The trio’s encounters are strained, exacerbated by the fact that the family home is also the local Funeral Home for those of Jewish faith. After Art agrees to help his father prep a newly arrived body, as he did prior to leaving, strange things begin to happen. A new threat has entered the building, one that seeks to tear the house and all those in it apart. 

The first third of The Offering plays as a wonderfully tense mixture of The Vigil and Autopsy of the Jane Doe. Director Oliver Park works in some effective scare moments; the scares during Art’s initial examination prove to be some of the best. In fact, every sequence within this room is a standout. There’s something unnerving about the places that house the dead and Parker relies on the viewer’s innate unease to push the fear factor. As The Offering progresses however, the scares begin to wane. Parker begins to fall into the jump scare trope and so what begins as unexpectedly creepy shots, escalate into sudden loud noises. After the tactic is utilised once, it becomes Parker’s crutch and the hard-wrought atmosphere of early scenes gets diluted. 

The Offering also has some identity issues. It knows and understands that it is a horror film, the script just seems unsure of which character to focus on. Art, Saul, and Claire all interchange as the lead with the constant switching between them causing confusion. With none of the three fully in the spotlight, the full force of tension cannot build. The narrative presented here is the type that works best when the onus is placed on a single character. In terms of the nature of the story it is Claire that feels to be an organic vessel, but she spends much of the film on the outskirts of the supernatural occurrences. By the time that she is brought into focus, the full opportunity to connect to her has passed, and as such The Offering lacks that emotional connection that would inflate the jeopardy. 

A classic example of a film that starts strong before petering off, The Offering fortunately has an excellent opening third. By this point though, Parker’s feature debut struggles to maintain the momentum that was initially built. The strength of the opening act nonetheless does show a great deal of promise for the fledgling filmmaker. Not quite the excellent example of Jewish horror that The Vigil is, The Offering at least further proves the value in this direction of horror. 

The Offering

Kat Hughes

The Offering


A bold opening that mixes the best of The Vigil and Autopsy of Jane Doe quickly unravels into typical genre fare, but that beginning remains a great calling card for a director still in his infancy. 


The Offering was reviewed at Fantastic Fest. 

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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