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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Offspring (2009) review


Jessica Butler (Eartheater), Kelly Carey (Loreen Kaltsas), Holter Graham (Vic Manetti), T.J. Graye (Gloria), Amy Hargreaves (Amy Halbard), Art Hindle (George Chandler), Pollyanna McIntosh (cannibal leader)

Directed by Andrew van den Houten

A family of ferocious and feral cannibals travel the New England coast near the Canadian border butchering and eating families in the surrounding suburban neighborhoods.

The Short Version: Totally bizarre Ketchum film adaptation is the lesser of the four evils made from his novels thus far. Still, gore fans will slobber all over the nasty and brutal violence on display here. The frequent scenes of pugnacity bring to mind a modern CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and THE HILLS HAVE EYES, but the film feels strangely out of place with its feral, jungle dressed killers laying siege to rural families. Worth a look, but compared with the other Jack Ketchum movies, you might be disappointed with the quality.

The fourth, and least of the brutally violent novels by Jack Ketchum adapted for the screen. The sequel novel to Ketchum's earlier 'Off Season', this follow up was commissioned since the other was tied up in rights issues. I've read neither book, but judging from the film itself, it doesn't seem to be a requirement to have read the prior tome. Still, this movie version is a strange potpourri of graphic violence and Italian cannibal movie conventions.

While it's mostly the aftermath that's shown, the film pulls few punches in its depiction of violence by, or against children. Far from a good movie, OFFSPRING is the neolithic brethren compared to the other Ketchum based movies. For this picture, Ketchum also stepped up and wrote the screenplay. Having not read the novel, I do not know how faithful it is to his own source material.

There's also an additional sleazy subplot about an unstable husband searching for his estranged and fearful wife

When compared to the other movies (particularly THE GIRL NEXT DOOR), OFFSPRING pales in comparison looking like the work of an amateur as opposed to an auteur. I'm not saying it's a bad movie, it just seems less polished and rough around the edges. The director also has a brief appearance as a medical examiner. All of Ketchum's novel based movies have been dark affairs and this one carries the torch passed on by the others before it.

The family of cannibals retreat to their rocky home after a night of grocery shopping

The main problem I have with the movie is I found it hard to swallow (haha) that such a regressive clutch of savages would be intermingling with modernized nuclear families. It just seemed jarring that cave-dwelling, cannibalistic cretins like this, wearing the attire that they were, would be waging a war of consumption with the surrounding human food supply. It's a reverse HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) in that the cannibal clan come to civilization as opposed to the other way around. At just a scant 75 minutes (79 including the end credits), the script finds room to include an almost equally savage man looking for his wife who had left him. He ends up running afoul of the cannibal clan and briefly sides up with them to watch his wife being tortured and raped within their seaside cave.

Easily the best performance in the film is from Pollyanna McIntosh, the female leader of the band of brutes. Despite their seemingly out of place and silly dress, these killers are utterly ruthless and bloodthirsty. A prolonged rape and torture scene towards the end is a highlight, or lowlight depending on one's perspective. It was also nice to see Art Hindle (BLACK CHRISTMAS '74) in a horror picture again. He also participated as an associate producer.

This victim gives Woman a piece of his mind

Some of the cast do fall prey to typical horror movie stupidity, but the script delivers some fresh shocks when some cast members get killed off whom you think will make it to the end. Delivering lots of gore and extreme violence, casual horror fans may find this off putting, or even revolting. Gorehounds and those with an affinity for Italian flesh feast films will want to gorge themselves on Ketchum's most recent offal offering.

This review is representative of the Lionsgate DVD


thhjasmine said...

im eager to check this out now,thx for the great review!

Joel Harley said...

I'm an enormous fan of the books (I'd encourage you to check them both out) but this movie really left me cold too. Great review.

venoms5 said...

@ thhjasmine: You're welcome, Jasmine, hope you like it!

@ Joel H: Thanks, Joel, I have heard lots of good things about the books, particularly 'Off Season'. Maybe it will get made into a movie one day?

I Like Horror Movies said...

Completely agree on McIntosh' performance, she was the only factor that made the film bearable outside of the bloody gore. So.. incredibly.. out of place.. If the cannibals had been toned down and not so outlandishly over the top I may have been able to accept them a little more readily

venoms5 said...

I did enjoy it, just not as much as the others.

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