Friday, April 15, 2011

Movie Review: Offspring (2009)

So after seeing the video of the guy freaking out at the screening of "The Woman" at Sundance and his six-minute tirade against it at some Sundance dude after getting kicked out, I REALLY WANT TO SEE "THE WOMAN." But that movie seems to have fallen into the strange, gaseous ether of movies that people hated at Sundance, and searching for a nationwide release date for it turns up bupkiss. Instead I turn my attention back to Offspring, the 2009 film version of Jack Ketchum's second novel about feral cannibal people living in the caves of Maine. I say I'm going back to it because I tried to watch it online once many months ago and it pooped out on me halfway through.

The sequel starts off with a grisly murder of three people by the children of the cannibal clan, which sets the local police and one harried ex-cop whose dealt with their damage before off on a mission to find the family and stop them for good. Meanwhile, David and Amy Halbard (a young couple with an infant daughter) and their houseguests Claire and young Luke must fight against the bloodthirsty killers, while also dealing with Claire's psycho soon-to-be ex-husband.

Of the movie-izations of Ketchum's novels that I've seen so far - Red, The Girl Next Door, The Lost, and Offspring - I honestly haven't been that impressed, with the exception of The Girl Next Door. But even that one, though it had great actors in the main roles, fell a little flat in some respects. I just feel like Ketchum's work has not gotten the treatment it deserves by movie standards. Is his work too disturbing? Gore is all over the place in movies nowadays but the underlying subject matter is perhaps what people can't handle about him.

The unrelenting gore and depravity is what makes this series of books famous and we can perhaps be thankful in that regard that Offspring wasn't optioned for a big budget film version. The filmmakers go all out in most of the scenes - dead babies, bloody torsos, beheading and brain-eating, a girl pulling a guy's intestines out of his stomach with her teeth - it's all here. These cannibals really enjoying killing their prey in the most gruesome ways, depicted to us in all the bloody glory the filmmakers can muster.

I'm a little - but not totally - put off by the look of the cannibals. With their crazy afro hair and dress that makes them look like aboriginal headhunters or something, it's a bit too on the nose. Why don't they just wear the clothes of the people they kill? How do they even know how to make their fur bikinis and crop tops? Also they speak in their own cave-people language which is funny, but if they were the descendants of lighthouse people or whatever, wouldn't they have known English and passed it on to the rest of the clan? Just sayin'.

As much as the original novel was pretty much short and to the point - cannibals, blood, gross torture, cannibals die - so then is this movie. We only get the bare minimum of backstory and characterization for David, Amy, Claire, and everybody else before all the crazy shit starts. Ketchum's other novels more character-driven, but this one and Off Season before it are definitely more situation-driven. It doesn't really matter who the victims are because the story is sort of not really about them. Sorry, but it's not. It's about the blood.

The acting choices are interesting. Not a single recognizable face and in fact, if you click on some of their names on IMDb, Offspring is their only credit. That tells you something right there. The portrayals are mediocre, not terrible and not great. The people playing the cannibals are the best thing about the movie (besides the part where Stephen's gets his head half cut off and the main chick starts munching on his brain) is how these guys go all out and really get their cannibal freak on.

See it if you love Jack Ketchum but even then, don't be expecting the greatest depiction of his classic stories of cannibals.

Sidenote: Jack Ketchum is an awesome guy. If you go to his website ( and check out the message board, you can leave a message for Jack himself and, wait for it, HE'LL REPLY BACK TO YOU. I wrote him something about how much I liked The Girl Next Door and he wrote a nice little appreciative message back. Very cool, Jack, very cool indeed. And watch for his cameo in this movie as the EMS guy Max at the first crime scene in the beginning.


  1. This movie may be mediocre, but I'm surious to check it out, anyway....
    Good review.

  2. Hi Michele ! Glad to hear that someone appreciates the work of Jack Ketchum (real name Dallas Mayr). I adore many things horror and recently discovered him. Just finished reading Off Season and am trying to locate Offspring in novel form. Thankfully my mother is a librarian, so let's hope !
    The Girl Next Door I saw a couple of years ago and didn't know of the author and his work. Seems like it was OK. Really am hooked on the Off Season trilogy. Want to experience more ! Thanks !

  3. Good to see that you reviewed a film WILLINGLY that I was 'forced' to do as part of Project Terrible this Round. Damn!

  4. Just saw The Woman, it like totally freaked me out . I had to research it. Which brings me to the offspring. Wow, I love a good horror movie.....

  5. I just watched "The Woman" on Netflix. I kept thinking "there has to be more to this story than this" so I googled it and found your blog. Excellent review. And as a fellow female who loves horror good on you for dedicating your time to a most excellent cause!

    1. i also watched the woman on netfix. i did the same as you i did a lil googling lol. i think its so cool that more and more females are into the horror genre. i could never watch a horror film with any girl ive ever dated. you gals rock!!

  6. Isn't it weird how we all searched for this? **

    Great film. I believe this would be my first cannibal movie and I loved it.

  7. Ha! Just finished watching The Woman on Chiller - and here I am! Can't figure out if The Woman is the sequel to The Offspring? Seems to have a better storyline than just killer cannibals...

  8. I just watched this. Quite enjoyed it but far from perfect. The acting was pretty horrible, but a woman did toss a baby so that scored it some points