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Blu-Ray : One to Avoid
Ranking:
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Release Date: October 6th, 2009 Movie Release Year: 2009

Offspring

Overview -

Back with a vengeance and an insatiable appetite for human flesh...Their Time Has Come Again. Based on the acclaimed novel and adapted for the screen by best-selling author Jack Ketchum, Offspring follows the survivors of a brutal flesh-eating clan that has resurfaced in the once sleepy town of Dead River, Maine. The locals are in for a rude awakening when they realize it's the same pack that the sheriff thought he'd killed off a decade ago. Just when they thought the nightmare was over, they're about to discover that the fight for their lives has only just begun.

OVERALL:
One to Avoid
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p / AVC MPEG-4
Length:
79
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.78:1
Audio Formats:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround
Subtitles/Captions:
Spanish
Special Features:
Also From Lions Gate
Release Date:
October 6th, 2009

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Last year, Ghost House Pictures, the production shingle led by Sam Raimi and his longtime production partner Rob Tapert, cherry-picked a handful of films to be released on home video. Modeled on the similarly successful After Dark Fright Fest, the first round of Ghost House Underground was mostly lousy. However, there was one great movie in the bunch, the Danish sci-fi movie 'The Substitute.' That movie was so good that it gave me a misguided sense of excitement for the other movies, as well as for future Ghost House Underground picks. ('The Substitute' is now being remade in English by a new wing of Ghost House called Spooky Pictures.) If there's another 'Substitute'-style gem in this year's batch, then 'Offspring' sure isn't it.

'Offspring' is based on the not-terribly-awful Jack Ketchum novel of the same name. It's actually a sequel to a story called 'Off Season,' but as we learn on the commentary track, the rights to that one were all tied up and these filmmakers, who had achieved modest success with another Ketchum adaptation (of 'The Girl Next Door'), decided to move ahead with the second story. And boy, are we glad they did.

It concerns a group of cave-dwelling Neanderthals, basically, except here they're rendered as little more than wild men/women cannibals, who terrorize people and eat babies and the like. That's more or less the entire plot. There are more than a handful of horror clichés gleefully (or unknowingly) engaged in with this movie, including a queenly mother figure of these freakish people (just like 'Beowulf,' 'The 13th Warrior,' and countless others); a grizzled small town Sherriff who has dealt with these monstrous people before (he's a character carried over from the first story); cannibals chewing on somebody's intestines; the jerky preppy ex-husband; and evil little kids.

The whole thing is barely watchable. It just grinds on and on and on, a seemingly never-ending parade of awfulness. Blood splashes across the screen, the actors are truly awful (and you could care less about any of the characters), and it looks like the cumulative budget was about $4.50. The ineptitude of the production reaches into every facet of the production, including when a naked cannibal woman is tromping through the woods, you ask yourself when, exactly, did the cave dwelling cannibal woman have time to wax?

Bottom line: to paraphrase Roger Ebert: I hated, hated, hated this movie. There are a number of high-quality horror movies out on high definition this Halloween (and maybe there's a diamond in the rough crop of Ghost House Underground movies), many of them new, but please do not waste your time with 'Offspring.' It's a truly atrocious experience from beginning to end - and I had to watch it twice!

Video Review

Ranking:

Well, you've got to give them points for consistency - the transfer is just as dreadful as the movie. The MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer (1.78:1 aspect ratio) on this itsy bitsy 25GB Blu-ray disc is awful looking to the extreme. Everything looks soft - washed out, grainy, and unappetizing. Skin tones are fine, blacks are iffy, colors are drab and featureless, detail is marginal, and for a disc that's ten dollars more than the standard DVD, you're not getting your money's worth, at all. Although the thought of someone being so enamored with 'Offspring' that they'd want to own it on high definition, well, it's more fanciful than a thought of cannibalistic Neanderthals stalking well-meaning suburban residents. And that's really all I've got to say on the matter.

Audio Review

Ranking:

Good news for audiophiles: 'Offspring' comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. The bad news: it sucks just as much as everything else. Everything seems muffled, with sound effects occasionally sounding loud but not very crisp (it's about as muddled as the video is). On the commentary track, everyone talks about how amazing the sound design is and how the obnoxious score is so great and atmospheric (and influenced by 'Cannibal Apocalypse,' apparently), although by listening to the movie you'd never notice that at all. All in all, this audio mix is just lousy. None of the hallmarks of a great mix are represented here - dialogue is often soft, directionality is blunt and only occasional, ambience and atmosphere are minimal, and the music is loud and overbearing.

There are no alternate language tracks to pick from, but there are subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish. Also, there are moments when the cannibals are speaking their cannibal language, and we get those moments subtitled too.

Special Features

Ranking:

Ghost House actually saw to it to put a fair amount of effort into the special features… if only it were for a movie you were actually interested in knowing more about! These are the same special features as on the DVD. And a note for anyone who is wondering just where the the commentary track is - for some reason it's hidden under the language selection. (This took me a few minutes to figure this out.) It's worth ferreting out because it's really the only special feature worth investigating (even if it does mean you'll have to watch the whole movie over again). It should be noted that the disc is Region "A" locked.

  • Feature Commentary with director/producer Andrew van den Houten, producer/director of photography Bill Miller, and writer Jack Ketchum This commentary is actually quite fun and informative, and all three gentlemen are strong and engaging throughout. (Many of the anecdotes related above came from information gleamed from this commentary.) They talk about why they adapted the sequel and not the original, the Michigan locations (they shot for a whopping 23 days), and what it was like for the actors to go through these horrific scenes. Ketchum, a legend in the horror genre for his short stories and novels, is particularly engaging, with a gravelly voice that you could listen to for days. In fact, everyone seems so enthusiastic and proud that you almost feel bad about having a go at the movies… except that the movie really is awful. This is recommended for anyone who loved the film, who liked the book, or anyone who is confused as to why this movie feels so much like a sequel without an original actually existing.
  • Progeny: The Birth of 'Offspring' (SD, 20:48) To quote Jack Ketchum on this brief making-of documentary: "I'm in the woods, with a lot of nice people, making a really horrific movie." There you go. You also learn that the filmmakers are all about 12 years old, which explains the amateurish feel of this movie. There is behind-the-scenes footage mixed with talking head interviews by the principles of the cast and crew. Is it particularly illuminating? No. (Except that one of the actors said she thought the production would be a "cheesy experience," um, she was right.) It is kind of funny to see so many people take such a silly movie so seriously. You can skip this.
  • First Stolen's Bailout (SD, 3:04) This is a little documentary about First Stolen, one of the principle cannibals, who had to get busted out of jail (for a cool $400). The story goes: while racing towards the filming location, is pulled over for speeding. When the cop pulled him over, it was discovered that he had a suspended license and they threw him in the slammer! So people from the movie had to bail him out. This is actually pretty cute and funny.
  • Webisodes (SD, 18) These are eight clips highlighting various scenes, mostly behind the scenes footage (and most of it is seen in the aforementioned 'Progeny' special feature). These clips were posted online to drum up interest about the movie, so after-the-fact they don’t make much of an impact.
  • Photo Gallery (HD, 3:18) A combination of production stills, behind the scenes photos and surprisingly cool pre-production artwork. This is, again, only for those 'Offspring' super-fans, although it does showcase that many of the cannibal women would be quite attractive were they not covered in gore and viscera.
  • Official Trailer (SD, 2:03) Guess what? The fiilmmakers are as bad at selling a movie as they are at making one. This is clearly an online exclusive because there's far too much dripping blood to ever be allowed anywhere else.
  • Ghost House Micro Videos (SD, 2:55) This is a barrage of crazily edited clips from the other Ghost House Underground movies from this year. Apparently 'Seventh Moon' is a movie where 'Crank's Amy Smart gets chased around by a freaky, clawed demon. Guess that could be fun. (This is edited to some of the most obnoxious heavy metal music I have ever heard.)
  • Also from Lions Gate (HD, 8:28) Home video adverts for 'Saw V,' 'The Midnight Meat Train,' 'My Bloody Valentine 3-D,' 'The Haunting in Connecticut,' and 'The Descent.' So there's that.

'Offspring' fails in every way that a movie can fail, and this Blu-ray disc, with its abysmal video and audio and host of unnecessary and repetitive special features isn't going to change anyone's mind. There's a fine crop of Halloween Blu-ray discs out this year, among them 'Drag Me to Hell' and 'Trick R Treat,' but please, stay away from this movie. It really is lousy. Only the hardened cannibal junkies or Jack Ketchum aficionados are going to watch to even rent this baby. Avoid this one like the plague.