you know your google doodles, you know this Saturday was Claude Shannon’s
birthday. Little did he know, his work on binary value systems could raise the
Tower of Babel and unleash the demon Leviathan. Elements of Biblical evil and
the digital age, as well as some of our favorite Singaporean stars elevate Kelvin
Tong’s American-funded Singaporean-produced horror film, The Offering (trailer
which opens tomorrow in New York.
muckraker Jamie Waters has come to Singapore to tend to her sister’s affairs
after she committed suicide. Waters is naturally suspicious, questioning why Anna
would end things now after dealing with her Huntington’s Disease for some many
years, but it is hard to argue with the video recorded on her laptop. However,
Waters soon discovers her sister’s death fits a pattern of suicides committed
by high-functioning terminal cases, all of whom seemed to expect to be
Waters’ environment clearly did not help either. She had been staying with her similarly
afflicted young daughter in her estranged husband’s formerly mothballed family
home. It is safe to say this waterfront property has some history behind it.
Somehow, the old cultist who performed his rituals there might be connected to
the binary-based internet virus apparently triggering the suicides. When the
local Catholic church’s webmaster starts investigating with Father De Silva, a
guilt-ridden exorcist from Bali, they uncover strange references to the Tower
of Babel and Leviathan.
a horror movie to really get under our skin, it has to entail, serious, metaphysical
evil. To fight that kind of darkness, you need a priest pouring over ancient demonology
tomes late at night. Happily, we have that here. In fact, Adrian Pang and Colin
Borgonon inspire a good deal of confidence as Father Tan and Father De Silva. You
can see the film noticeably perk up when Tong cuts to them.
Rice also makes a reasonably forceful genre protagonist when she is pursuing
her own investigations. However, her family drama with niece Katie and
bro-in-law Sam gets predictably tiresome. The latter is the worst kind of
horror movie kid. Bizarrely, Tong also largely wastes Jaymee Ong in the
pedestrian role of family friend Marjorie Tan, who is mostly called upon to
babysit Katie. At least Pamelyn Chee (from Serangoon Road) gets a bit more to do as May Wong, the possible “Patient Zero” of the
Regardless, Tong understands how to creep out
the inner Catholic in us all. The connections he draws between the Tower of
Babel and binary (the new “One Language”) feel unsettlingly convincing in the
moment and he exploits the old dark house setting quite efficiently. The
execution is a little messy at times, but he deserves credit for originality.
Recommended for old school demonic horror fans, The Offering opens tomorrow (5/6) in New York, at the Cinema
Labels: Horror Movies, Jaymee Ong, Singaporean Cinema