Welcome to the most obscure of the obscure. I consider myself to be something on 80’s horror movie aficionado. Previously, I thought I had seen just about every slasher movie to emerge from that decade. And then I found Offerings on Amazon Prime. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. This 1989 slasher came out well past the subgenre’s expiration date. It stars no one you know and writer-director Charles Reynolds only made one other movie. To be honest, Offerings only warrants discussion for one reason. How much can a movie rip off another movie before there’s a problem? In spite of its formulaic devotion to a certain past classic, has Offerings achieved some cult status? Or is it still just a bad movie?
Everyone picks on poor, mute John Radley. Even his own mother treats him with disdain. John’s only friend is a classmate named Gretchen. But when the neighbourhood kids play a cruel prank on him, John suffers a serious brain injury, permanently hospitalizing him. Years later, John suddenly wakes up and escapes from the hospital. Now he’s looking for revenge against his past tormentors. With each killing, he takes a body part as an offering for his only friend – Gretchen.
Offerings Liberally Borrows From Halloween
If you’ve watched horror movies for any amount of time, the above synopsis should sound very familiar. Writer and director Charles Reynolds liberally borrows from John Carpenter’s Halloween. Very liberally. Yes, more than a few plot points coincidentally pop up. Similar to Halloween, Offerings features a mute killer institutionalized as a child. After years of languishing in a catatonic state, the killer inexplicably awakens and escapes. Though John Radley isn’t wearing a mask, his pallid face and methodical stalking call to mind a certain ‘Shape’. Moreover, Reynolds’ seemingly attempts to re-create a few scenes with no success.
But Offerings just feels like it’s lazily cribbing from other movies.
Of course, by 1989, just about every imaginable slasher trope was firmly established. As such, Reynolds does shake Carpenter’s formula up a little. Offerings throws in a ‘tragic past event’ that’s one part Prom Night and two parts every ‘bully revenge’ horror movie ever released. All the characters are ridiculously one-dimensional, over-the-top caricatures taken from other movies. Even John Radley’s awful mother feels like she was taken out of grimy Spanish slasher, Pieces. It’s not just that Offerings isn’t original. Plenty of 80’s slasher movies were derivative. But Offerings just feels like it’s lazily cribbing from other movies.
Plodding Pacing, Technical Ineptness, and Bad Acting Are Scariest Parts
Micro-budgets are no excuse for slasher movies. In fact, the subgenre was basically built on low-budget aesthetics and innovative, practical effects. My Bloody Valentine, Intruder, The Burning, and even Pieces – they’re all extremely cheap movies. Yet these movies boast gruesome kills created with some grisly effects. Some of these movies include the kind of inexplicably weird moments that only turn up in low-budget efforts. Take the random Kung Fu instructor in Pieces who seems to wander onto the wrong film set. It’s that kind of WTF moment that makes bad movies fun to watch.
…Offerings just takes itself too seriously.
Unfortunately, Offerings has nothing like it. It’s too long, poorly filmed, and the acting is bad even by this type of movie’s standards. After about an hour, you’ll be checking your watch. The bad news – you’ll still have another 35 minutes to go. Simply put, Offerings just takes itself too seriously. Perhaps if Reynolds had gone a different direction and embraced the movie’s derivative nature with sheer audacity, the result would have been more fun.
Offerings Has Too Little to ‘Offer’ Slasher Fans
To be fair, Offerings isn’t the first horror movie to mimic Carpenter’s classic with none of the skill or self-awareness. Nevertheless, Offerings is one of the worst offenders. And it makes little effort to hide it. While its lack of self-awareness and micro-budget almost makes it unintentionally funny, the key word here is ‘almost’. At just over 90 minutes, Offerings becomes tiresome very quickly. John Radley should have just stayed in the well.