Written and Directed by Mickey Keating
Screening Exclusively on Shudder
Marie Aldrich is summoned to Lone Palm Beach by the graveyard caretaker after her mother Ava’s grave is desecrated. Accompanied by her partner George, she manages to get onto the island before it closes for the stormy season but unfortunately is unable to locate the sender of the letter. Asking around the local tavern proves pointless as the locals seem unwilling to help and after an incident, Marie finds herself stuck on the island, a place her mother never wanted to return to.
As she searches for answers, Marie starts to wonder whether the crazy legend her sick mother had waffled about during her illness has more truth to it than she first imagined.
OFFSEASON is a mystery horror from writer and director Mickey Keating, who also penned and directed 2015’s DARLING starring Lauren Ashley Carter. In the film, things aren’t quite what they seem as a simple trip soon feels as though it’s turning into a trap…
Early on in the movie, we see couple Marie and George attempt to access the island and are prevented from doing so by the bridge operator until Marie insists and shows him her letter requesting she visit the island straight away. Like the trope of the gas station owner in many horror movies gone by, Richard Brake’s Bridge Man is an early signifier that whatever’s drawing her to the island isn’t going to be good and we’re not wrong.
As she enters the island and explores the cemetery, beach and woodland, and encounters the strangest of folk, the film quickly takes on a Lovecraftian vibe and that’s before Marie divulges an odd legend that her mother revealed to her before her death. With her mother Ava’s screams of not wanting to be buried or returned to the island, the place of her birth and childhood, Marie suspects that foul play has occurred along the way and someone has tampered with her will. However, with Ava’s will instructing that she be buried on the island, Marie is unable to fight and fulfil her mother’s protestations and is instead at the mercy of the locals who turn from unhelpful to insidious.
OFFSEASON is an incredibly slow moving film where very little happens. It moves so slowly that it often comes to a complete standstill and then struggles to gain momentum again. Because of this, it’s so easy to lose interest and even when something does happen, there’s nothing substantial about it to make the viewer care.
Lacklustre performances with very little dialogue makes the film feel like a forced watch. However, it does have its merits with the audio design an assault on the senses whilst a couple of the reveal scenes within the movie are well designed and capture your attention, even if only for a little while.
Whilst the movie manages to capture a sense of eeriness and disorientation, a feeling as though both Marie and the viewer are trapped in a surreal nightmare, there’s not enough character development to make you actually care one way or another. The idea conjured up of a local Lovecraftian legend seems like it would have more to give, but OFFSEASON simply scratches the surface meaning that even during its short running time of 83 minutes it feels like a drag with chapters segmenting the movie feeling rather unnecessary.
OFFSEASON relies upon atmosphere and unease to draw the audience into its story but unfortunately it’s not enough to make an impact.