Offerings (1989)

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Little John Radley had a crappy childhood. He takes his frustrations out on his pets because his dad abandoned him, his mom is abusive and the neighborhood kids pick on him because he doesn’t talk. The only nice thing in his life seems to be his lone friend, Gretchen. But even Gretchen can’t save him when one of the bullies pranks goes awry and John falls down a well, causing permanent brain damage. He’s sent off to the local psych hospital and, ten years after the accident, breaks out to return home to seek his revenge on the bullies who tormented him.

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He just wants to be loved, damn it!

Okay, where to start… First off, did you guys like Halloween? Because Offerings is pretty much a re-skin of Halloween with a bevy of flaws heaped upon it. They even completely ripped-off the soundtrack. John’s character is essentially Michael Myers sans-mask. He chases victims slowly like Myers. He’s essentially invulnerable like Myers. He’s silent like Myers….The only topical difference is that John hasn’t kept up his figure and the excessive scaring on his face pretty that much guarantees he doesn’t need a mask. Falling down a well makes you look like a burn victim, I guess.

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Unfortunately with all that, he doesn’t come across nearly as menacing as Myers. While Myers is steady and menacing, John feels more loitering and lumbering. We hear heavy breathing like in Halloween, but instead of feeling ominous it feels more like you’re listening to a nerdy mouth-breather ogling something he shouldn’t be. There’s also the fact that he has a semi-relatable motive of revenge as opposed to Myers’ (initially) inexplicable death parade.

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He did inherit Michael’s strange, ethereal glow, though.

Then there’s the acting. It ranges from “…Okay then” to “Where the hell did you find this guy?” Everyone here is either under-acting or over acting. There really isn’t much in between. Now, to the movie’s credit, some of the over acting feels intentional, but it’s kind of hard for me to tell whether it is or not. Based on the quality of the rest of the film, I’m going with ‘not.’

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You might want to put the crossword down and turn around there, Columbo

Then there are the characters themselves. I ended up liking the two female leads, but damn it all to hell if the kids in this movie didn’t make some of the most bizarre decisions. I mean, if you waited close to an hour for a pizza, only to walk out on the porch to find the pizza just sitting there (no delivery guy in sight) with some strange topping you didn’t order covering it, how many of you would just shrug and eat it? I know teens have questionable decision making skills, but even teen-me wouldn’t have done that. Then there’s the fact that the two girls decide to stay in the house once the body parts start showing up. I wouldn’t care if the tubby sheriff said I was safe. I’d be finding somewhere else to stay.

Which makes me think that an alternate title to Offerings could be How Not to Woo Your Woman. See, John doesn’t just kill off a bunch of teens. No, he kills off a bunch of teens and then leaves little pieces of them outside Gretchen’s home for her to find (or for her dog to run off with.)

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Yes. Fabulous. Just what every stalking victim wants to find on their porch.

It’s actually one of the creepier aspects of the movie.

There’s also this weird semi-plot point about how Gretchen has this sort of sixth sense about the future. I honestly don’t know why it’s there. It’s not like it comes in handy when it comes to warning her about pieces of her friends winding up on her doorstep. Or when something bad happens to her dog (or the pizza delivery guy, presumably). Or when the phone’s going to go out. Or, well, any point other than when she’s about to be called on in class or during the final scene. It’s really an odd, half-assed inclusion.

That being said, there are a few things about Offerings I actually liked. For starters, while the acting in the movie itself is pretty poor, and the characters make several very bizarre decisions, they also have striking moments of self-awareness. At one point during the film, two of the girls are watching a movie and comment on how dumb some of the stereotypical scenarios are, a good half a decade before Scream came along and made it popular. And, despite previously questionable moves, they’re also smart enough to arm themselves and stick together when they feel there’s a threat.

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Which makes their inexplicable decision to stay in the house all the more baffling.

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At least her friend is quick on the draw when there’s a noise.

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Not that one! Mom would kill us if we broke it.

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Fine *sigh*

I know I’ve heavily criticized Offerings, but truth be told, I actually kind of liked it. It’s like Halloween-light, with a bunch of intentional/unintentional humor that at some point feels dumbed-down and at others self-aware. Sure the characters are kooky and may all suffer from brain damage, but they do have their moments. There are even a couple of scenes that are genuinely disturbing and a decent amount of violence. Unfortunately, the film does suffer from some pacing issues. The plot meanders around the mid-way point and several scenes go on much longer than they should. There’s also some odd bits of editing, with a couple scenes looking like they were shot through a telescope.

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But even then, I don’t consider it too bad. It’s a step above Troma, at any rate. It probably helps that they nicked so much from Halloween. It’s just too bad that along with the music and plot, they didn’t also run off with the writers, editors, cinematographer and set designer. At least then they wouldn’t have ended up with eye-bleeding wall coverings like this:

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Seriously, don’t stare at this too long or it’ll start to hurt.

Offerings is currently MIA from most streaming services (though it has been on there before). But I did manage to find it on Youtube.

It is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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Michi

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