'The Offering' (2016)

The Offering
© Momentum Pictures

Synopsis: An American woman heads to Singapore to investigate her sister's death and encounters supernatural entities.

Cast: Matthew Settle, Elizabeth Rice, Pamelyn Chee, Elizabeth Lazan, Jaymee Ong, Adina Herz, Adrian Pang, Colin Borgonon

Director: Kelvin Tong

Studio: Momentum Pictures

MPAA Rating: NR

Running Time: 95 minutes

Release Date: May 6, 2016 (in theaters and on demand)

The Offering Movie Review

Over the past decade, filmmaker Kelvin Tong has made a name for himself in his homeland of Singapore -- and to some degree, in the US, thanks largely to his well-received 2005 ghost movie The Maid.

He's done well enough, in fact, to earn the rare distinction of directing a Hollywood horror production (well, an American co-production) -- reportedly the first Singaporean director to do so. The result is The Offering (AKA The Faith of Anna Waters), a flawed ghostly film that probably won't do much to expand Tong's Hollywood opportunities.

The Plot

When workaholic journalist Jamie Waters (Elizabeth Rice) receives a message that her sister Anna has died, her investigative instincts kick in, and she hops the first plane to Singapore to find out what happened. Told by authorities that it was a suicide, Jamie is skeptical until they show her a video Anna shot while asphyxiating herself with a plastic bag.

She reaches out to Anna's 12-year-old daughter Katie, who strangely insists her mother is going to return from the dead any day now. Adding credibility to that belief are ghostly encounters Jamie experiences while staying in the house where Anna killed herself, owned by her estranged husband Sam (Matthew Settle).

Sam ends up joining her in the search for the truth, researching the house's previous residents, while Jamie finds another unexpected ally in a pair of priests who are looking into recent cyber attacks on church websites. Seemingly unconnected on the surface, the two events collide as an ominous force seeks to throw the world into chaos, shaking Jamie's faith (or lack thereof) to the core.

The End Result

The Maid was a solid but unremarkable horror routing for Kelvin Tong, but The Offering makes it look like a classic in comparison. From the opening scene, it's evident the acting will be painfully wooden, outdone only by the unnatural dialogue ("It's time you fed."). I can chalk this up partly to the fact the script was written and directed by a non-native English speaker, but it's harder to excuse the overblown characterizations (OK, we get that Jamie is an atheist; she doesn't have to balk at every casual mention of God by spouting "God has nothing to do with it!"), the un-frightening ghosts scenes (Ghosts jumping on a trampoline?) and a plot that amounts to a jumbled mess of genre clichés: unreligious protagonists encountering a challenge to her beliefs, disgraced priests looking for redemption, children befriending ghosts, secrets hidden in basements of old inherited houses, blah blah blah.

All of the haunted house mumbo jumbo eventually ends up as just a way to set up yet another horror cliché: exorcising a possessed girl. The film even dares to drag out the old 180-degree Exorcist head spin, for goodness' sake. Tong manages to cobble together a nice image now and then, but most of The Offering is painfully ineffectual and makes for a tedious viewing experience, with endless scenes of ghosts popping up just to warn the whiny little girl (who still annoyingly runs headlong into danger at every turn), protagonists making maddeningly irrational decisions and jump scares that wouldn't make anyone with the majority of their senses intact jump, capped off by an overly simplistic resolution.

The Skinny

  • Acting: D (Stilted and amateurish, not helped by the leaden dialogue.)
  • Direction: C- (Ineffective attempts to scare and generate any sort of genuine human emotion.)
  • Script: D (A nonsensical hodgepodge of horror clichés.)
  • Gore/Effects: C (A couple of decent gory moments.)
  • Overall: D+ (A messy, annoying, exhausting blend of ghost story and exorcism tale that tries to do too much.)

Disclosure: The distributor provided free access to this movie for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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Your Citation
Harris, Mark H. "'The Offering' (2016)." ThoughtCo, May. 6, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-offering-movie-review-p2-4045236. Harris, Mark H. (2016, May 6). 'The Offering' (2016). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-offering-movie-review-p2-4045236 Harris, Mark H. "'The Offering' (2016)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-offering-movie-review-p2-4045236 (accessed November 19, 2017).