RUNNING TIME: 79 minutes
• Progeny: The Birth of Offspring
• Photo Galleries
• Printable Script
• Ghost House Micro Videos
• Short, hilarious featurette showing lead
cannibal getting bailed out of jail
The movie that justifies explosive contraception.
This cute feller has baby blood drying on his lips. Stay classy, Jack Ketchum!
Cast: Amy Hargreaves, Art Hindle, Pollyanna McIntosh, Stephen Grey
Director: Andrew van den Houten
Based on Jack Ketchum’s sequel novel to 1981’s Off Season, Offspring follows the continuing misadventures of a cave-dwelling clan of feral cannibal children who scavenge for food and babies along the rural Maine coastline. Years after foiling the clan’s first rampage, veteran cop George Peters (The Brood‘s Art Hindle) suspects a cannibal resurgence after the discovery of a pair of well-chewed corpses. A few dead babies later, the sleepy coastal town is plunged into chaos as the police hunt for survivors and the cannibals hunt for meat. A young mother fights for the survival of her child after being captured by the clan, while her sociopath husband proves that white-collar folk can be worse than feral cannibals.
We’ve reviewed all of the Ketchum adaptations here, including the effective although exploitative The Girl Next Door, the surprisingly good The Lost, and Red, which is enjoyable if for no other reason than Brian Cox. Offspring features a script penned by Ketchum himself, and might be the most faithful adaptation yet. It’s a near scene-for-scene mirror of the book; even at a brief 79 minutes, it captures nearly every gruesome and memorable moment from Ketchum’s novel, up to and including graphic disembowelments, trash bag baby corpses, skull cleavings, brain removals, and girl torture. In hindsight, Ketchum is scary big on girl torture.
As shocking as some of this stuff is, it’s still a pretty shitty movie.
Overlit like bad TV and featuring the corniest villains this side of He Who Walks Behind the Rows, Offspring‘s sicker moments can’t help but be offset by its shoddy production. While lead screamer Amy Hargreaves and Art Hindle do well battling cannibals, the rest of the cast wouldn’t seem out of place in a SyFy original. Goofy, out-of-touch moments include the following morning exchange between David, a video game programmer, and Amy, his wife:
David: [Sits down at computer keyboard and begins typing] *CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK*
Amy: “Morning, honey. Make any progress?”
David: “I just finished the third board!”
[Cut to monitor image of giant vector ant monster]: VOOT! VOOT VOOT!
Amy: “Can I see?”
[Amy sits down at desk]: *CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK* “Wow!”
[Cut to vector ant monster]: VOOT! VOOT!! VOOT!
David is rightfully disemboweled two minutes later.
There’s no good reason for the video game ant to exist in this film. It’s like a late night commercial for a game design college. Offspring is rife with stilted, oddball exchanges like this, and while they’re admittedly funny, they don’t make for good horror.
Worse than that are the film’s cannibal terrors. Offspring doesn’t skimp on the gore, but when your villains all look like Yahoo Serious cavemen, it creates a disconnect that evokes laughs rather than terror. Offspring reveals them early, often, and in full light, which compounds the problem further. Beyond the cannibals, Offspring‘s rogues gallery also includes an abusive, alcoholic psychopath who eventually tries to ally himself with the clan. This is Ketchum’s attempt to compare the cannibals’ feral brutality with more civilized cruelty, and although this sideplot ends in a wet fart, it’s almost compelling. Holter Graham’s menacing father figure is Offspring‘s most interesting character, but he’s underused.
While it’s cheap and generally not very good, Offspring isn’t a total loss. The low-fi organ score does a good job evoking 70’s exploitation horror, and there are moments – the torture scene, in particular – that succeed in unnerving. Gorehounds with questionable taste will find lots to enjoy here, as Offspring doesn’t shy from using entrails as a plot device.
Faithful to a fault and poorly executed, it’s the weakest Ketchum adaptation so far. People without a burning Ketchum fetish should probably avoid this.
Shockingly, Offspring is loaded with extras. There’s the obligatory making-of featurette, photo galleries, and a printable script. Ghost House usually loads these things with promotional materials for other products, and they didn’t make an exception here. There’s one standout featurette that almost makes everything worthwhile, though: the lead cannibal was arrested the night before an important morning shoot, so the crew filmed the frantic race to bail him out. It is amusing.
The SD video isn’t too bad, and the audio works fine in DD 3/2.1. The cannibal necklace box art is neutral enough to not offend.
~~VOOT! VOOT! VOOT!~~
3 out of 10