The Offer

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Offer
"The Offer doesn't waste any time or attempt to spare viewers' sensibilities."

Since the late 1960s, a sufficient number of cautionary tales about visiting remote mansions on the pretext of receiving money have been made that one would think people would be careful. One need only turn on the television, however, to see random members of the public submitting themselves to all sorts of promised humiliation on the same basis, so it seems reasonable that directors Chris Griffiths and Gary Smart should revisit the subject. Interestingly, they choose to do so in a way that - though several factors tell us it is not a period piece - is clad in the trappings of Seventies horror from top to bottom. Both in its visual style and in its tone, it harks back to the work of Hammer and Amicus - one half expects it to stop halfway through so an unseen narrator can quiz us on what's going on.

We enter this particular mansion in the company of Gabbie (Gemma Gordon), a wide-eyed young woman who immediately seems nervous, not least because of the other people there. She's one of only two women and an atomesphere of laddish banter has already developed, largely thanks to Michael (Bruce Jones), a used car salesman who seems to fancy himself as an end of the pier comedian and does his best to offend everyone before reassuring them that he's only having a laugh. This doesn't go down well with Daniel (Darnell Spence), a young black Londoner who has no inclination to humour racists, though he soon starts upsetting people himself with homophobic remarks. It already looks set to be a long night - and then, after a brief assurance that they can leave with £5,000 each if they want to but will have to commit to stay for a chance of winning £10,000,000 - they are invited to play a game.

With £10,000,000 offered to the winner, you can guess what becomes of the losers. The Offer doesn't waste any time or attempt to spare viewers' sensibilities in delivering this. It also has a better excuse than many films of its ilk for the varied and gratuitous way in which characters are dispatched. Special effects by Stuart Conran (one of a number of Hellraiser alumni involved) are both convincing and gruesome, and simple adjustments to the lighting enable the directors to do a lot with very limited space.

There's not much more to the film than this, with no real twists or surprises - at least not for those who have paid attention to the genre in recent years. The acting is of variable quality and it's difficult to feel sympathy for many of the characters, which limits the film's ability to make an emotional impact. Only one of them gets a character arc that goes beyond the mere exposure of secrets. Still, it doesn't outstay its welcome, and for those seeking a straightforward slice of old fashioned horror for an evening's entertainment, it has plenty to offer.

Reviewed on: 10 Jan 2018
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Seven strangers are invited to a house expecting to be offered a large inheritance, but instead they find themselves trapped in a deadly game to the death.

Director: Chris Griffiths, Gary Smart

Writer: Neil Morris, Adam Evans

Starring: Gemma Gordon, Kenneth Cranham, Oliver Smith, Simon Bamford, Bruce Jones, Barbie Wilde, Danny Stewart

Year: 2017

Runtime: 48 minutes

Country: UK

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