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  Offseason Tourist Trap
Year: 2021
Director: Mickey Keating
Stars: Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg, Richard Brake, Melora Walters, Jeremy Gardner, April Linscott, Jonathan Medina, Eliza Shin, Jess Varley, Andrew Vilar, Larry Fessenden, Amanda Grace Benitez, Andrew Varenhorst, Anthony Azar
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Marie (Jocelin Donahue) was well aware her mother (Melora Walters) was buried in the cemetery on her island hometown against her wishes, she spent about a week hearing about it from her ailing parent in the last days of her life. Indeed, she is convinced the will was changed, she knows not by whom, to make sure her mother ended up there, a place she had made sure she got as far away from as possible - she eventually became an actress. But now Marie has heard through a letter that she herself must travel to the island as the grave has been vandalised; she is not relishing this trip, and her boyfriend George (Joe Swanberg) has been silently stewing the whole drive, but they are about to discover real problems...

Offseason was one of a series of horror movies by Mickey Keating, part of a loose collective of American chiller makers who intertwined with their own projects, showing up in acting roles or appearing with producer credits, for instance. In case you were wondering, yes, Larry Fessenden was involved in this one, giving it his blessing in a small acting part, so all was right and correct in the indie horror world. It was not an out and out bloodfest like Keating's previous Carnage Park, here he demonstrated his range by relying on atmosphere and a general sense of H.P. Lovecraft updated for the twenty-first century (without the racism). It was never going to be everyone's cup of tea, but for what it was it looked terrific and was engaging.

Donahue was one of that collective too, her highest profile role being House of the Devil which was by no means her only horror outing, and given her main role was to convey dread as she wandered endlessly through the village and its environs, you could not accuse her of botching the job. If this was all somewhat predictable, down to the ambiguous conclusion, it was a pleasing journey to go on as Marie finds herself trapped on the island when an encroaching storm (naturally) cuts off the place from civilisation, her options pared away as everyone, including George, falls prey to what is described as a "demon" tightens its grip on the island and its inhabitants, many of whom appear to be under the impression that they are receiving salvation there, only not from any Christian God, more a ghastly Elder God which has successfully gained a foothold.

Although there were no images of monsters to be seen as such, Keating relied very well on his design, resulting in a superb-looking picture that was coloured in hues of greys and blues, with occasional bursts of full colour for emphasis. The art direction was a triumph as well, Donahue set against foggy buildings and forest paths, or on a beach that stretches as far as the eye can see which paradoxically is far too easy to get lost on as you are reduced to a tiny silhouette. The cast indulged themselves enjoyably, Walters in flashbacks to indicate her paranoia may not have been the consequence of dementia which of course turned out to be the case, it was all those worst fears confirmed tropes employed with eerie gusto. In fact, you may wonder why Marie took the trip in the first place seeing as how it was bloody obvious from the beginning that she was onto a loser with this, leaving behind a presumably comfortable set of circumstances for this rustic Hell - she could have simply sorted it out by telephone had she had the gumption. But then there would be no film: the inevitability was as aspect of the horror. Music by Shayfer James.

[Offseason - A Shudder Exclusive
Premieres 10th June 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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