By Kyle Hintz
Writer/Director: Mickey Keating
Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg, Melora Walters, Richard Brake, Jeremy Gardner
After receiving a mysterious letter, a woman travels to a desolate island town and soon becomes trapped in a nightmare.
I was anxiously anticipating the release of Off Season as it looked to be a truly independent
throwback horror film about a spooky haunted island, and that’s exactly what it proved to be.
Marie (Jocelin Donahue) receives a letter informing her that her mother’s grave has been vandalized. When Marie and her boyfriend George (Joe Swanberg) arrive at the island they find it closed for the season, but are able to talk their way onto the island. On her deathbed, Marie’s mother (Melora Walters) begged not to be buried on the island for fear of an ancient curse, despite a clause in her will stating that she be buried on the island. As Marie searches for the caretaker of the cemetery to repair her mother's grave she encounters strange islanders and begins to question whether the island really is cursed…and that’s about all I’ll reveal here, since I don’t want to spoil anything.
The film is dripping with an eerie Southern Gothic atmosphere and unsettling vibe. It recalls the best of survival horror games with odd characters popping up, shifting geography and a slowly unraveling mystery. The premise recalls the Messiah of Evil with its island setting and curse, and the ending is a nice nod to The Shining and Messiah of Evil. It’s great to see Jocelin Donahue in a lead role, and good supporting roles for Melora Walters, Jeremy Gardner and a particularly ferocious Richard Brake. While some may find it lacking in terms of visceral scares and gore, that’s really not what it’s aiming at. This is more of a classic mood piece giving you the creeps without ever really making you jump out of your seat.
4 out of 5! Now streaming on Shudder so check it out.