The only Oliver Reed films I can remember seeing are Oliver! and Gladiator, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Burnt Offerings. This is a low-budget, low shock, low gore 1970s horror film, where a couple and their son move into a grand old house for the bargain rent of $900 for the whole summer. The only catch is that the owners’ elderly mother will be living there, confined to her room in the attic, they’re told they won’t even know she’s there. They simply have to take care of the house and keep the old lady in cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches.
Strangely charming in its own way, Burnt Offerings manages to intrigue in spite of the rather thin story. The owners of the house are sufficiently creepy as to tip you off, as the viewer, that this deal really is too good to be true, even if the reason why isn’t 100% clear until the end. Unless you watch the trailer first, of course, then you’ll know right from the get go.
The performances are very solid, especially if like me, you’ve come to have low expectations of horror stars. There are some moments when it gets a tad hammy, but that’s forgivable when there’s so much else to enjoy. And did I mention it features Bette Davis, too? I didn’t?! She lends the proceedings a real touch of class.
Burnt offerings isn’t particularly eventful but it is spooky, well acted and mysterious.
WARNING: this trailer shows everything
Watch the whole film here: