IT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF OFFSEASON!
It’s so great that horror is beginning to get the attention it needs, for it has long been a genre that never got the attention it deserved in the festival circuits throughout the years. Premiering at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Offseason is an eerie tale that opens with a haunting and uncomfortable monologue by an apparently dying woman, who we later discover is the mother of Marie, a young woman that needs to return to the desolate island where her mother lived after receiving a frightening and enigmatic letter. As she enters this island with her boyfriend George, Marie soon finds herself in the middle of a neverending nightmare. The people that live on the island are believed to have made a pact with a demon, and Marie soon discovers that her mother tried to warn her about this issue before she died, but will it be too late to return to safety?
Offseason is written and directed by Mickey Keating, a promising director that was clearly inspired by atmospheric classics like The Fog to bring this story to life. The film has quite an impressive cinematography, and the chilling atmosphere it creates by constant wind and abundant rainfall makes us shiver from start to finish. Another aspect that helps Offseason to be such an enjoyable exercise is the carefully selected cast, which ultimately surpasses the film’s not-so-original storyline. With Jocelin Donahue‘s leadership, Offseason becomes a journey where the main character needs to face the loss of someone whom she not always provided the deserving amount of love, attention and affection, forcing her to endure the nightmarish reality that her mother faced while spending her final days alive. This self-awereness and personal guilt make the leading character interesting to the audience. Despite not exploring all the characters with the same depth, Offseason manages to disguise some of its biggest mistakes by setting up an intriguing mystery that ultimately arouses the viewer’s curiosity.
Unfortunatelly, Offseason does not succeed in justifying the main reasons of this mystery’s existence. Instead, the film tries to impress the audience with its technical achievements and artistic chapterization, but ultimately undermines the storyline by not adding enough information to make its story sound believable or altogether relevant. What could be an extraordinary set up after that creepy first monologue, rapidly becomes an ordinary experience, following the same formula that most horror films do. Even if Keating actually manages to leave us with the chills due to the amazing photography, cold weather behavior and fightening locals, Offseason can’t create enough original elements so the audience can relate to it as a fresh and unforgettable experience on screen. Despite the talent of Donahue and Walters that steal the show throughout the film (and let’s not forget Miss Emily’s uncomfortable look), Offseason is an enjoyable exercise that could have been an even bigger achievement.
Nevertheless, this is a film that will actually make people aware that there is a new director on the rise that can be fit for bigger productions if given the proper material to work. Keating’s eye for enhancing the particular elements that leave a viewer uncomfortable is certainly one to keep for further productions. Offseason is a decent start, and reveals an intriguing talent behind the camera, but could have been even better if it was more balanced in character development and more creative in expanding the mythology.
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Original Title: Offseason
Director: Mickey Keating
Runtime: 85 min.
Trailer | Offseason