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Film Review

OFFSEASON (2022) Review

Neil reviews brand new Shudder original film, OFFSEASON. The film is available to stream via Shudder from June 10, 2022.

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Offseason (Shudder)

Offseason streams from June 10, 2022 via Shudder.

Synopsis

Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s grave site has been vandalised, in Offseason, Marie quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving her stranded. One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past in order to make it out alive.

Review

Let’s do the checklist. A remote island. Check. Creepy locals. Check. A mysterious ghostly figure. Check. Could this be an episode of Scooby Doo? It probably was at one point. But no, I’m talking Offseason, a brand new original film streaming today on Shudder.

Written and directed by Mickey Keating (Carnage Park) and starring Jocelin Donahue (Doctor Sleep) as our lead, Marie Aldrich. Marie is the daughter of recently passed actress, Ava (Melora Walters – Boogie Nights). Maria has been summoned to her mother’s island home town after her grave has been vandalised.

Offseason is a delightfully simple story. Keating rightly chooses not to overly complicate the 83 minute piece with never ending subplots. From the outset the focus is on Marie, her relationship to her mother and the events which occur on the island. The film is broken up in to a number of chapters, the subtitling of which helps to signpost the development of story. The chaptering also helps Keating to bring in a very small number of flashback scenes to add much needed context.

Despite its simplicity, Offseason is much more nuanced than many direct-to-streaming horrors. The pacing is slow and measured, it even forgoes repeated jump-scare moments instead replacing them with drawn our, psychological terror. For example, a sequence near the beach finds Marie stalked by a number of local residents hiding in the trees. It’s the first big scare of the film and one it repeats only a couple more times. In addition, the mythic monster of the season is much more of a presence and a looming threat.

Both Donahue and Walters give tremendous performances. Walters opens the film with a strong monologue as the beleaguered and ailing Ava. Whilst Donahue imbues Marie with the kind of strength one can easily presume Ava had before her illness took her away. The family resemblance is strong through the characterisation of both women.

Similarly, Donahue has the presence and dynamism to carry much of the film’s narrative. Marie is our window in to this desolate island world and Donahue is able to bring us along with her as she uncovers what lies beneath the surface.

Keating re-teams with Carnage Park cinematographer Mac Fisken for Offseason. There’s no doubting that Fisken relished the chance to shoot in such an idyllic location. Whilst the island is bathed in murkiness, its landscapes look stunning on film. Lingering shots of various woodland and beach locations betray a love of much more considered filmmaking. All the while, up-and-coming composer Shayfer James enhances the already atmospheric proceedings with some spine tingling musical cues.

Verdict

Boasting a simple yet effective story, Offseason capitalises on its creepy island location to create an atmospheric experience.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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