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Just say no to this random 'Offering'

Just say no to this random 'Offering'
"The Offering" stars Elizabeth Rice. (Amor Media)

Writer-director Kelvin Tong's supernatural thriller "The Offering" used to be called "The Faith of Anna Waters," which means that someone in charge ditched its generic original title for one even duller. That's pretty much all anyone needs to know about this uninspired, nonsensical mishmash, which crudely cobbles together second-hand religious imagery, abrasively noisy jump-scares, and — for some reason — techno-phobia.

The plot of "The Offering" is arbitrary, although figuring out exactly what's going on — and why — does offer the audience something to do to pass the time. In broad strokes, the story follows star reporter Jamie Waters (played by Elizabeth Rice), who flies to Singapore to investigate her suspicion that her sister's death wasn't a suicide. The particulars of the case involve demonic possession, super-hackers, and the Tower of Babel.

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"The Offering" is Tong's English-language debut, following an eclectic slate of genre films in his native Singapore. As a visual stylist, he proves himself to be competent but nondescript. And as a screenwriter, he mostly seems to be randomly grabbing familiar elements from better movies — right down to the climactic exorcism of Jamie's niece, who's made to look just like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."

In other hands, this clutter of characters and ideas might have been a sign of a restless imagination, and it might have led to something memorably weird. But "The Offering" is just dull and disconnected: by-the-numbers horror in which the numbers never add up.

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'The Offering'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood

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