“Despite its chilling atmosphere; possessed townsfolk, and a stellar performance from Jocelin Donahue, Offseason doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before.”
Shudder has cemented itself as the go-to source for the horror genre. Whether your tastes run to classic B-Movie hits like Alligator or new original movies like Phil Tippett’s Mad God, there’s something for every horror fan. And releasing on the streamer today is the original movie Offseason. But can this chilling tale, styled in the same vein as The Fog and The Wicker Man truly deliver a shot of terror chilling enough to have us rethinking our holiday plans?
In a word…yes. Offseason is a serviceable little time-waster that delivers just enough supernatural fright to shred anybody’s nerves. And though it isn’t the most original idea, it does leave its mark and offers up a few jump scares along the way. But at an ungenerous 83 minutes, the film doesn’t bring enough to the table to leave us wanting more.
The plot of the movie centers on a mother’s desecrated grave. And a daughter’s quest to return to the isolated offshore island where she is buried. However, upon arrival, she and her estranged husband (Joe Swanberg) quickly discover that everything isn’t as it seems in this sleepy section of middle America. The townsfolk are bizarre, to say the least. And soon, strange occurrences begin to add weight to the folk tales she was introduced to as a child. Stories of the island and its inhabitants making a pact with a demon are quickly revived. And the stories become all-too-real as the island’s bridges raise for the last time until Spring; leaving her stranded.
Lensed through the perspective of Marie; the young daughter played by Jocelin Donahue, director Mickey Keating promptly sets the tone for what is a functional supernatural mystery. Harnessing the fog-centric atmosphere of the classic horror movies of the 80s, Keating quickly drops us into a town plucked from The Fog and injects a genuine sense of isolation. The cemetery where her mother is buried is located on the outskirts of the town, close to the beach, and the surrounding forests reverberate with the whispers of the damned. Especially as the fog rolls in off the ocean. It’s a vintage horror setting. Wholly unoriginal, but suitably familiar territory all the same.
AN ECONOMICAL HORROR
Led brilliantly by Jocelin Donahue’s tortured performance, Keating frames the movie as a daughter’s quest to unravel the mystery of why her mother was buried on the island she abhorred. The subdued musical score injects a sense of dread and unease as Marie wanders the island and interacts with the ghostly inhabitants. But sadly, the movie doesn’t really offer anything new in terms of storytelling. And the contentious decision to include chapter breaks every few minutes prevents us from becoming fully immersed in the mystery. And at a frugal 83 minutes runtime, the movie concludes just as we become invested. Which is a real shame.
The supporting cast has very little to do, and they quickly find themselves banished to the shadows until they are needed further down the line. But I guess that was a necessary foil to hammer home Marie’s sense of isolation. However, when you have a cast boasting the talents of Richard Brake who fills in as the creepy drawbridge operator, and Joe Swanberg as Marie’s estranged husband; one can be excused for thinking they’d have more of an influence.
For me, Offseason just about sticks the landing. If Mickey Keating set out to deliver a blend of The Fog; The Wicker Man, and Silent Hill, then he succeeded. But sadly, despite its chilling atmosphere, possessed townsfolk; demonic backdrop, and a stellar performance from Jocelin Donahue, Offseason doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before. But, at a swift 83 minutes, it never overstays its welcome and ushers its audience to its inevitable conclusion without becoming overly convoluted. So in that sense, it delivers a worthwhile watch. The atmosphere alone delivers pure escapism at its finest, but I doubt you’ll be needing the cushions on this occasion.
Offseason releases today exclusively on Shudder.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!