Review: ‘The Offering’ (2022), starring Nick Blood, Emily Wiseman, Allan Corduner, Paul Kaye and Daniel Ben-Zenou

February 26, 2023

by Carla Hay

Paul Kaye, Nick Blood and Allan Corduner in “The Offering” (Photo courtesy of Decal)

“The Offering” (2022)

Directed by Oliver Park

Some language in Hebrew with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City, the horror film “The Offering” a features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A real-estate executive and his pregnant wife return to his hometown of New York City to visit his father, who owns and operates a funeral home that is the scene of many sinister occurrences caused by an evil spirit. 

Culture Audience: “The Offering” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching supernatural horror movies that have jumbled stories and weak endings.

Allan Corduner, Paul Kaye and Nick Blood in “The Offering” (Photo courtesy of Decal)

“The Offering” is a disappointing and sloppily edited horror movie with some cringeworthy acting. The ending of the movie is very rushed and haphazard. The movie can’t maintain enough suspense. Scenarios are poorly explained and get more and more idiotic. It’s another “evil demon possessing bodies” horror flick that doesn’t do anything interesting after starting out with a promising concept.

Directed by Oliver Park and written by Hank Hoffman, “The Offering” (which takes place in New York City) begins with this statement: “In the myths of the Near East and Europe, there is one terrifying female demon, depicted in amulets, paintings and stones from as early as the first century A.D. She has dozens of names in multiple languages and religions, but carries only one horrifying attribute: the take of children.”

The next scene shows an elderly Orthodox Jewish man named Yosille Fishbein (played by Anton Trendafilov) in the library/study room of his home in New York City’s Brooklyn borough. He’s surrounded by a circle of dirt in the room. A creepy-looking, 7-year-old girl is in the room with Yosille.

She sneers at him in a menacing adult voice: “What are you doing, Yosille? You know what will happen if I don’t feed.” Yosille shouts back: “No more! I will never feed you again!” She replies, “Very well. There are always others. A life for your wife.” Yosille says out loud, “Forgive me.” And then, he stabs himself with a knife.

The movie then shifts to an outdoor scene in Brooklyn, where real-estate executive Art Feinberg (played by Nick Blood) and his pregnant wife Claire Feinberg (played by Emily Wiseman) have arrived to visit Art’s widower father Saul (played by Allan Corduner), who owns and operates the Feinberg Funeral Home in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood. Observant viewers will notice that on the street where Art and Claire have been dropped off by taxi at the funeral home, there is a missing person poster for a 7-year-old girl named Sarah Scheindal (played by Sofia Weldon), who happens to be the same girl who was with Yosille.

Art is nervous about this visit because he has an ulterior motive for this trip to Brooklyn. This visit is a pleasant surprise for Saul, because he and Art (who is an only child) have been estranged for years, but Saul has wanted a reconciliation for some time. The movie later reveals why Art and Saul were estranged. It has do with the death of Art’s mother. Art and Claire will be staying in the funeral home’s guest room during their visit.

A corpse has recently arrived to be prepared for an upcoming funeral. The dead body is that of Yosille. Years ago, when Art still lived in New York City, his father tried to get him to go into the family business. Art tried, but he didn’t like it. He is still very uncomfortable with the funeral business, but he reluctantly agrees to Saul’s request to help prepare Yosille’s body for the funeral. Art is the one who has to remove the knife from Saul’s chest, which is a very inaccurate-looking scene n the movie, since the knife removal would have been done by a morgue as part of the police investigation into this apparent suicide.

Saul has an employee named Heimish (played by Paul Kaye), who is an Orthodox Jew. Heimish is very suspicious of why Art has suddenly come back to visit Saul. Heimish describes Yosille as a “brilliant scholar” who became a recluse after Yosille’s wife died a few months ago. If you’ve seen enough horror movies or have basic common sense, you can easily figure out the connection between the last scene of Yosille being alive and why he would summon a demon, who has obviously possessed the body of Sarah Scheindal.

Art is by himself when he has to remove the knife from Yosille’s chest. He finds a triangle-shaped, blue jewel pendant, which he kicks down a grate on the floor. Big mistake. When Saul finds the knife in the mortuary sink, he notices that the knife has strange inscriptions that look like they’re in an ancient language. Saul takes the knife to an Orthodox Jewish scholar friend named Chayim (played by Daniel Ben Zenou) to ask him what the inscription reads.

The middle of “The Offering” somewhat drags when Art’s secret reason for this visit is revealed. There are a lot of predictable jump scares and some drama over Claire’s pregnancy. She and Art already know that their unborn child is a girl. All the signs are there that Yosille’s body has brought an evil spirit with it that was in the pendant that Art dropped.

“The Offering” has effective production design, since the set pieces (lots of dark and musty rooms) definitely help give the movie a very foreboding look. However, visuals alone do not make a good movie. The story starts to become an incoherent mess in the last third of the film, when Art suddenly acts like a private detective, and several idiotic things are crammed into the movie to try to ramp up the terror. The last third of “The Offering” also has some very silly chase scenes with terrible film editing.

The very beginning of “The Offering” already reveals that there’s a demon on the loose, so there’s no real suspense in this film. The uneven performances in the movie range from adequate (Corduner is the most convincing in his role) to downright awful (Wiseman is very stiff with her acting). The movie’s visual effects often look tacky and hard to believe.

Worst of all, the ending of “The Offering” is a complete dud and looks like a very lazy way to conclude the movie. For a much better horror movie with Orthodox Jewish themes, watch 2021’s “The Vigil.” “The Offering” and “The Vigil” (which both take place in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighbhorhood) obviously had low budgets, but “The Vigil” is an example of a low-budget horror movie that delivers a high-quality story and plenty of compelling scares.

Decal released “The Offering” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on January 13, 2023. The movie was released in the Netherlands in 2022.

Review: ‘Monster Family 2,’ starring the voices of Emily Watson, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, Ethan Rouse, Emily Carey, Catherine Tate and Jason Isaacs

October 23, 2021

by Carla Hay

Emma Wishbone (voiced by Emily Watson), Frank Wishbone (voiced by Nick Frost), Max Wishbone (voiced by Ethan Rouse) and Fay Wishbone (voiced by Jessica Brown Findlay) in “Monster Family 2” (Image courtesy of VivaKids)

“Monster Family 2”

Directed by Holger Tappe

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City, Scotland, the Himalayas and outer space, the animated film “Monster Family 2” features an all-white cast of characters representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A British family that can transform into monsters is targeted by an American family in a spaceship that wants to capture all monsters that they think are menaces to society. 

Culture Audience: “Monster Family 2” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the first “Monster Family” movie and people who don’t mind seeing a substandard animated film with a silly story and messy production values.

Maddox Starr (voiced by Daniel Ben Zenou), Mila Starr (voiced by Emily Carey) and Marlene Starr in “Monster Family 2” (Image courtesy of VivaKids)

“Monster Family 2” is one of those sequels that shouldn’t have been made because hardly anyone was asking for it and it’s worse than its predecessor. The 2017 animated film “Monster Family” was a huge flop with audiences and critics. It’s mind-boggling that anyone thought it was a good idea to do a sequel to a movie that clearly was such an unequivocal dud in every sense of the word. But here is “Monster Family 2,” a time-wasting, incoherent and dull movie that fails at any attempt to be funny or interesting.

Holger Tapper, who directed “Monster Family,” is also the director of “Monster Family 2.” The first “Monster Family,” as atrocious as it was, still had a story that was simple enough for people of many ages to follow: Count Dracula (voiced by Jason Isaacs) became infatuated with a married woman named Emma Wishbone who, along with her husband and two adolescent children, got cursed and the Wishbone family all turned into monsters. A lot of shenanigans ensued until the curse was predictably lifted. And (spoiler alert) at the end of the movie, Count Dracula was frozen into an icicle-like cage with his own snowflake weapon.

In “Monster Family 2,” Count Dracula is able to free himself from his icicle prison, but he isn’t in this sequel as much as he was in “Monster Family.” Instead, the family ends up spending part of the movie in outer space because of a convoluted story involving a spaceship-residing human family that wants to capture the world’s worst monsters. David Safier, who co-wrote the first “Monster Family” movie with Catharina Junk, is the sole screenwriter for “Monster Family 2.” Because he’s the only screenwriter this time around, it’s now easy to see who’s mainly responsible for coming up with all the bad story ideas for this movie franchise, which is based on Safier’s children’s book “Happy Family.”

Through a series of circumstances, the Wishbones are turned into monsters again: Emma Wishbone (voiced by Emily Watson) is turned into a vampire. Emma’s husband Frank Wishbone (voiced by Nick Frost) becomes Frankenstein. Emma and Frank’s daughter Fay Wishbone (voiced by Jessica Brown Findlay), who’s about 16 or 17, is transformed into a mummy. Emma and Frank’s son Max Wishbone (voiced by Ethan Rouse), who’s about 12 or 13, is changed into a werewolf. The Wishbone family is British and live in a middle-class home in New York City.

In the beginning of the movie, the Wishbones are at the wedding of Baba Yaga (voiced by Catherine Tate), the elderly witch who put a spell on them in the first “Monster Family” movie. Baba Yaga is friendly with the Wishbones now. Her groom is an elderly man named Renfield. The Wishbones are the only guests at the wedding, which takes place in a church. Count Dracula’s three annoying (and thankfully mute) bats are still hovering around being the pests that they were in “Monster Family.”

The Wishbones think that they have gone back to their regular lives as human beings. The only “turmoil” in the family in the beginning of the story is that Fay—who is constantly on her phone to take selfies and to use her social media—is expressing some teenage rebellion because she’s secretly thinking about dropping out of school. Max, who is an insecure brat, knows this secret and threatens to tell the parents. Emma is generally more level-headed than her husband Frank, who is sort of a bumbling goofball when he gets overly excited.

Unbeknownst to this small wedding party, they are all being spied on by an American family of three people in a spaceship, which is called the Starr Copter. These spies are the Starr Family, whose motto is “I can make the world a better place.” The family consists of a billionaire philanthropist couple named Maddox Starr (voiced by Daniel Ben Zenou) and Marlene Starr and their teenage daughter Mila Starr (voiced by Emily Carey), who is sent to do all the dirty work for her parents.

Actually, the Starrs think that what they’re doing is the opposite of dirty work. These do-gooders are fanatical about finding and capturing the worst monsters in the world. They want to keep these monsters imprisoned in pods on their spacecraft. Mila ends up capturing Dracula. Her parents praise her and tell her to capture Baba Yaga next.

And that’s how Mila ends up literally crashing the wedding, where she states her intentions. She has drones that can lift people in the air. The Wishbone family tries in vain to stop Mila from abducting Baba Yaga and Renfield, but Mila whisks the bride and groom away and holds them captive on the Starr Copter.

During this weirdly slow-paced battle, Mila gets into an argument with Max and insults him by calling him “Pizza Boy.” Mila gives him this nickname because she says that the only thing it looks like he knows how to do in life is order pizza. It’s a mean-spirited dig at Max’s body size because he’s a little chubby.

“Monster Family 2” has some strange comedy that falls very flat, not including the body-shaming jokes that are downright moronic. During her argument with Max, Mila kisses him on the lips, which suggests that she’s actually attracted to him. After Mila kisses Max, they both say in disgust, “Eww!” This kissing scene just looks out-of-place in this movie.

Max is also dressed like a 1980s pimp when he goes to the wedding: He’s wearing gold chains, a brown fur-lined jacket, baggy pants and sneakers. Max’s father Frank compliments Max and tells him he looks great. It’s an odd remark, considering the outfit looks more like a Halloween costume than something an adolescent boy should be wearing at a wedding.

Even more bizarre: There’s an Oedipal moment when Max emerges in this inappopriate attire, he swaggers like he thinks he’s a pimp, and he looks at his mother and touches her face in a way that suggests that he thinks even his own mother could fall for his seductive charms. This is all being depicted for a boy who isn’t even old enough to have a driver’s license. And this hint of incestful thoughts from this boy is just too creepy for a family-oriented movie—or any movie for that matter.

Out on the street before they go into the church, Max happens to see a girl he has a crush on. But right at that moment, his baggy pants fall down. The girl and the friend who’s with her take photos on their phone. Max is naturally embarrassed. It’s a scene that’s awkwardly presented in the movie. And let’s just not discuss the cheesy dancing to MC Hammer’s 1990 hit “U Can’t Touch This” that comes later in the movie.

In the quest to rescue Baba Yaga and Renfield, the Wishbones are turned into monsters again when Max uses a magical amulet that he got from Baba Yaga. Mila’s parents tell her that the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti (also known as the Abominable Snowman) are next on her list of monsters to capture. What follows is a lot of ridiculousness involving the Wishbone family (in monster form) going to Scotland and the Himalayas.

The action scenes in “Monster Family 2” are poorly staged, with characters in the film moving too slow and/or standing around talking in what are supposed to be high-energy chase sequences. The dialogue is simply awful. The story is extremely tedious. The characters are unappealing, while the voice performances are mediocre. And there’s a truly cringe-inducing moment toward the end where some of the characters sing the Human League’s 1986 hit “Human,” in a scene that’s supposed to be sentimental for all the reasons you think, if you know the lyrics to the song.

The only notable thing that “Monster Family 2” has going for it is that the animation is very colorful. Worst of all, for a movie about a “monster family,” there is hardly anything spooky (even in a comedic way) about this film. Any movie that under-uses an iconic villain such as Count Dracula is a movie that’s not worth seeing.

VivaKids released “Monster Family 2” in select U.S. cinemas on October 15, 2021. Sky Group premiered the movie in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2021.

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