Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Offspring (2009)

A Film With An Appetite

Well, no one will ever accuse novelist Jack Ketchum of being too soft, that's for certain. The author behind such novels as The Lost, Red, and The Girl Next Door (all of which have been recently adapted to the small screen) is well known for his brutally graphic and controversial body of work that has the squeamish hiding beneath the sheets after page one, as well as the high praise of acclaimed horror scribe, Stephen King. Offspring (adapted from Ketchum's novel of the same name) is no exception, as its visceral depictions of cannibalism, torture, and child murder are guaranteed to cause a stir with any viewer that isn't, well, Jack Ketchum.

Former detective George Chandler (Art Hindle, The Brood) is summoned by the police to investigate a grisly murder that may relate to an old case involving a lost tribe of cannibals who have remained and hunted undetected in the forests and caves along the border of Maine and Canada. On the other side of town, David Halbard tells his wife Amy (Amy Hargreaves, who I've had a massive crush on since I first saw her in Brainscan) that he spotted a nude woman on the lawn of their country home the previous night. Knowing nothing of the tribe or the murders, they presume it was a local hippie at worst, and carry on visiting with their friend and houseguest, Claire, and her eight-year-old son Luke. Just when everything seems fine, the tribe breaks into the Halbard home and begins a violent rampage, murdering David and kidnapping Amy and Claire, while Luke escapes with the Halbard's baby. Soon the cops are on their trail, but they're running out of time, as Luke can only hide in the woods for so long and Amy and Claire can only take so much torture.

I had originally started watching Offspring when it was first released in 2009, but for some reason I never finished it. Perhaps I was drunk and not in the mood for a low-budget gorefest, or maybe I was just not into the film at the time (I do remember scoffing at the concept of a lost tribe standing in a modern kitchen). After realizing that Lucky McKee's upcoming film The Woman was a followup (of sorts) to this story, I felt the need to give it another go, and I'm glad I did. While this won't make any top ten lists anytime soon, there's still a lot to like.

First and foremost, Offspring is a splatterfest. There is an insane amount of graphic violence in this movie, which gorehounds will eat up, but it also comes at a cost. Like in other films adapted from Ketchum's work, the blood comes uncomfortably and without warning, so you may find yourself a bit hesitant to cheer anytime an artery bursts. Some of the biggest shocks come from the violence that is enacted by the children of the tribe as well as their realistic and swift demises. Yeah, you'll kill a murderous kid if you have to, but that's something nobody wants to do, and watching it in this film packs just as much of an "umph" as you would imagine.

There are some low production values at times that may hinder the shocks or the story for some horror fans, but at the same time, the film stays true to Ketchum's unapologetic tone and doesn't shy away from treating its audience to as much gore and general fucked-up-ness as its budget allows. I have no complaints in the acting department, with the exception of one character who delivers his only line of dialogue as if he had somewhere important to be in five minutes. There's also plenty of nudity on display, but just like the violence, it's a bit difficult to thoroughly enjoy under the circumstances in which it's presented. But hey, if it works for you...well...seek help.

While Offspring isn't the best film in the Ketchum adaptation library, it's still an insanely wild ride that will please horror fans looking for something a bit nontraditional in their gore films. So eat up, everyone, or else we'll have to freeze the rest of this torso.

2.5/5 Stars

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