A Shot of Jack (Ketchum that is) Part I: Offspring Review A Shot of Jack (Ketchum that is) Part I: Offspring Review
Originally published on October 8, 2013 at 2:05 am In 1981 my family moved from Islip Terrace, NY to Phoenix, AZ. Shortly after arriving,... A Shot of Jack (Ketchum that is) Part I: Offspring Review

Originally published on October 8, 2013 at 2:05 am

In 1981 my family moved from Islip Terrace, NY to Phoenix, AZ. Shortly after arriving, I wandered into a bookstore (remember those?) and found one of the few constants in my life, Fangoria magazine. In one issue it reviewed a book titled Off Season by Jack Ketchum. It was inspired by the tale of Sawney Bean, and the over the top graphic descriptions made this a must have. 10 years later, came its sequel, Offspring which proved every bit as brutal as its predecessor.

Red Light, green light 12…ahhhhh!

Both books, to my teenage mind at the time, would make fantastic movies, so I waited. And waited. I ended up waiting nearly 20 years, but finally in 2009, Offspring made it to the silver screen. Well, DVD anyway, though it did make the rounds of festivals and conventions, it never saw a theatrical in the US.
The film starts with a brutal and bloody attack by the children of a cannibal tribe. This sets in motion a chain of events involving the local police, and the retired Sheriff who did battle with them a decade earlier. Add in a friend with a young son, a couple of infants, and a nasty ex-husband and you have all you need for a brisk 90 minute rampage.

Unfortunately, Offspring is far from a perfect film. After a fast paced and buckets of blood start, it seems to stop dead in its tracks to throw in the story. We get about 25 minutes of “character development” for people who are no more likable than before we got their back story. Married couple with baby, living in a small Maine town, invites a friend and her son to escape from nasty ex. About as cookie cutter as one can get and while I understand the need for a setup, taking nearly a third of an 85 minute movie is silly.
When it finally does get going, it never lets up. We go from one scene to the next for some of the bloodiest effects I’ve seen in awhile. Dead babies in plastic bags, beheadings and brain eating, a girl pulling intestines out with her teeth, the filmmakers let it rip and are unapologetic about the grue splashed across the screen.

Adapting his own book, Ketchum’s dialog generally rings true, and he does stay pretty faithful to his own work, but as stated earlier, that dead space of the story unfolding nearly undoes the entire piece. If the actors were good, or at least decent, it might not have been so bad. They’re not though, and their lack of ability makes the dry spell seem interminable.

A reenactment of The Lion King with an all cannibal cast.

Yet if you can get past that, you’ll be treated to some fantastic, old school gore effects. This is where Offspring shines however, and it very much reminds me of the classic slasher movies from the ‘80s.
Offspring could have been a great movie-for what it is-instead of being just okay. Fortunately, Ketchum fares better in The Girl Next Door, the next movie of his I’ll be reviewing in the near future.

 

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Scott Colbert

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