Jack Ketchum's Offspring (2009)
Directed by Andrew van den Houten
[this is a review I wrote for UGO.com's Movie Blog]
I have never read a Jack Ketchum novel so I came into watching Offspring with a unique perspective. The only other Jack Ketchum movie I’ve seen was The Girl Next Door which I ranked #4 on my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2007. So I may not be a big fan, but I do appreciate his vision.
With research, Offspring is a sequel to Ketchum’s novel Off-Season. But horror fans need not read that book as this movie takes place 11 years later. The story revolves around the citizens of Dead River, Maine being invaded by Eartheaters, pseudo American cannibals who are bent on slaughtering the innocent civilians of this quiet town. They are a clan like no other. These cannibals are all “stolen” children and have a wide variety of looks. A blonde cannibal in Mad Max gear, grown up cannibals in Native American stripper leather and to top it all off we have little kiddie cannibals, all unique in their personalities. When the first horrific murders occur, the local police bring back former Sheriff George Peters (Art Hindle) to investigate.
The main townies are introduced and they are no pushover teenagers. David and Amy, a married couple who live with their infant daughter are soon visited by Amy’s friend Claire and her son Luke. Later, Claire’s crazy, psycho husband Stephen threatens to visit and we see his true persona as a misogynistic yuppie when he picks up a hitchhiker.
But all this is set up so that when the scenes of complete slaughter and destruction occur, your empathy gene turns on. The meat and potatoes of Offspring and where Ketchum’s critical acclaim comes from are the scenes of unrelenting violence by the cannibals. Gorehounds will rejoice as we get a wide variety of splatterific moments. Ocular trauma, ripped necks, sliced up stomachs and oozing intestines, infanticide, 3rd degree burnage and a decapitation to the head that was uber stellar.
But top notch gore alone can only go so far to make a movie. The fight scenes are badly executed, the dialogue a little cheesy and the costumes look like they were bought at a less than a dollar store. The characters, probably given more backstory in the book are more like nameless victim fodder. Their deaths lack any viewer attachments and even a horrible rape and bite sequence made me care less.
What the book and Ketchum tried to hint at is that these cannibals are like locusts and it’s in their nature to kill. Moreover, the “civilized” ex-husband versus the uncivilized cannibals act eerily similar when their lives are on the line. That’s the connection you should have made but the movie fails at this and all we’re left with is kid on kid violence for the sake of shock value. I appreciate a hatchet to the chest as much as the next gorehound, but it doesn’t make for an entirely awesome flick. Like the cannibals, you’ll get an arm and a leg to nibble on, but don’t expect to get full from Offspring.
- Commentary with Writer Jack Ketchum, Director Andrew van den Houten, and Producer/Cinematographer William M. Miller
- Progeny: The Birth of Offspring documentary
- BailoutPrintable Script
- Photo Gallery
You'll like it if....
- You’re a hardcore Jack Ketchum fan
- You love cannibals running amok
- You’re a gorehound and love splatterpunk
- You bad costumes and cheesy dialogue get on your nerves
- You think Wrong Turn was awful
- You are squeamish when it comes to blood and ocular trauma