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Burnt Offerings (1976) - A Movie Review

Directed by: Dan Curtis.

Starring: Karen Black as Marian Rolf

Oliver Reed as Ben Rolf

Lee H. Montgomery as Davey Rolf

Bette Davis as Elizabeth Rolf

Burgess Meredith as Arnold Allardyce

Eileen Heckart as Roz Allardyce

Plot Summary : When the Rolf family shifts to an old and shabby mansion for their summer vacation, they experience various horrible events and feel that the house is responsible for everything.

Movie Review :

An adaptation of the 1973 novel of the same name by Robert Marasco, Burnt Offerings may be touted as a supernatural horror film but it is no less than a “mysterious offering” to the audiences who are going to see it for the first time which is of course if they are not familiar with the novel.

The plot follows the Rolf family consisting of the patriarch Ben, matriarch Marian, their son Davey and Ben’s aunt, Elizabeth who move into the rustic Allardyce estate for the summer. It is rented to them by the siblings, the house owners Roz and Arnold Allardyce. It is also hinted by them that their mother usually stays upstairs aloof from the crowd and that the monthly rent is suspiciously low enough for them to manage and as soon as the family moves in, strange events start to occur. The film tightens its mysterious grip right from the beginning. Just 10 minutes into the movie and we can already feel a sudden loom of Suspiria over ourselves about what’s to happen next. The camerawork is artsy on this one and with a talented row of actors to grace the screen, Burnt Offerings had no respite over that grounds except the script being a little hazy and disturbed with the dialogues all over the place. Great acting can of course save any movie but it’s the lines that pay the dues afterward.

As the great movie critic Roger Ebert had quoted for Chicago Sun-Times that “Burnt Offerings" is a mystery, all right. What's mysterious is that the filmmakers were able to sell such a weary collection of ancient cliches for cold hard cash.” In a decade when Hollywood was rejuvenating itself with the ideas of New Hollywood, and a year in which supernatural horror/thriller films like Alice, Sweet Alice, Carrie, Eaten Alive, Embryo, The Food of the Gods, Grizzly, The Little Girl who lives down the lane, Obsession, The Omen, The Town that Dreaded Sundown released and attained a cult status. It was Burnt Offerings that took the Saturn Awards home that year for Best Film, Best Director for Dan Curtis, and Best Supporting Actress for Bette Davis. Nevertheless, the movie has fought the genre of horror and come up to the status of being a supernatural thriller for horror fans who would find it worthy enough to rediscover and watch it again for better output and understanding of the genre.

I would not falter here but I enjoyed the movie quite a lot except for the sloppy dialogues. But it would be my honor to introduce you to a movie like this which would open your eyes towards a genre not fully understood. If you are a Bollywood fan, you would find a good set of similarities with Bhool Bhulaiyaa, apart from that I would definitely recommend you people to watch the movie at one go and also give Alice, Sweet Alice a treat too.

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