Young John (Josh Coffman) is a mute, who we first meet sitting at his kitchen table and getting talked at by his overbearing mother (Rayette Potts). She begins by giving him a backwards compliment, expressing surprise that someone without speech could receive such a glowing report of intelligence from their school. But she quickly turns her attentions on to a more sinister subject: John has been hurting animals. "You're sick!" she berates him, before warning that he's likely to turn out exactly like his "no-good father".
Yup, mummy is a bit of a bitch. The local kids are no better, given to following John and taunting him on account of his disability. Only pig-tailed neighbour Gretchen (Kerri Bechthold) shows him any kindness. But even she can't help when they're out playing one afternoon and the local kids, headed by little shit Greg (Soren Myatt), chase John to a nearby well. Ultimately, they pull a prank which leads to John falling down the well ...
Cut to "Ten Years Later". Rookie nurse Jackie (Jackie Shaw) has been given the worst maiden shift ever: tending to a comatose John on the evening he's due to wake up with murder in mind. Her night doesn't end well.
But that's grown-up John (Richard A Buswell) now well and truly awoken and determined to make his way back to the rural town he grew up in, intent on wreaking revenge against his former tormentors.
Officials and police of John's small-town origins are soon notified of his escape from hospital, and their concern is immediately palpable. Especially when they find mutilated and half-eaten animal carcasses on the outskirts of town.
Meanwhile, we meet adult Gretchen (Loretta Leigh Bowman), who's totally oblivious to what's going on: she's more concerned with the prospect of her parents going on holiday, which leaves her home alone for the next fortnight. Still, she's not overly concerned when she receives an anonymous telephone call moments after her folks have left.
Before long, people start going missing in Gretchen's small town. And Gretchen begins receiving peculiar gifts ...
OFFERINGS is a fun, fast-paced late 80s entry into the slasher cycle. It's not overly gory but does have its moments, with some decent practical effects to enjoy in its latter half. Characterisation is not a strong part, even though there's a fair amount of dry humour to be found in the smart script.
Russell D Allen's score riffs on HALLOWEEN without shame. In fact, many set-piece scenes can be viewed upon as homages to several entries in either the HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY THE 13TH film series. This by-the-numbers approach doesn't harm OFFERINGS any though: yes, we know what we're getting but with an 80s slasher film that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Performances are generally strong, as is the editing and photography. Though the film may not be gory enough for some (it doesn't reach the excesses of, say, MANIAC or NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN) it builds its body count steadily and with a reasonable degree of creativity.
With nods to DEAD AND BURIED, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH and even Shakespeare, writer-director Christopher Reynolds has no qualms with being derivative, and yet still somehow manages to produce a singular, and thoroughly rewarding capsule of the era it was originally released in.
OFFERINGS comes to UK blu-ray thanks to 88 Films.
The film is presented uncut here, at 94 minutes and 2 seconds in length. Housed as an MPEG4-AVC file, the 1080p transfer is a good, healthy one. A 2K restoration from the original 16mm negative, OFFERINGS appears to have had a good clean-up while keeping noise reduction to a minimum thus ensuring a healthy filmic feel is evident throughout. The original 1.78:1 ratio is adhered to and is, of course, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Colours are stronger than ever before, albeit a little more muted than your average 1989 production (no doubt due to the 16mm origins). Images are clear and detail is more pronounced than previous presentations. With solid blacks and smooth motion, this is a reliable proposition.
As is uncompressed English language dual mono audio track. Free from pops, hisses or drop-out, this is a problem-free playback. Optional English subtitles are well-written and easily readable at all times.
The disc opens to a static main menu page. There is no scene selection option on this menu screen, but you can traverse through the film by way of 8 remote-accessible chapters.
Extras begin with an enjoyable, fact-filled commentary track from the Hysteria Continues podcast bunch. Headed by "Teenage Wastelands" author Justin Kerswell, this is also a refreshingly honest chat, with Justin admitting that the film is "not high art", and definitely "not the best film in the world". But the talkative quartet is quick to defend the film in terms of its quirkiness and charm. They also have plenty to say about the cast, locations, scenes that remind them of similar moments in other films, memorable gaffs and more. There's also plenty of trivia to be gleamed on the slasher genre in general, and in particular the cycle of movies which populated the late 1980s.
We also get the film's original trailer, presented in 16x9 widescreen and 1080p HD. This makes for an entertainingly cheesy, old-school 75 seconds.
The packaging boasts reversible double-sided cover artwork (the reverse is the same front cover but with a different back, and no number on the spine). There's also a 4-page colour booklet insert inside the keepcase, showcasing 88 Films' impressive Slasher Classics Collection in its entirety.
OFFERINGS is a fun ride, an enjoyable addition to the late-80s slasher movie cycle which deserves a larger following. Hopefully 88 Films' excellent blu-ray release will prompt this.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by 88 Films|