OFF SEASON (REVIEW)
Dir. Mickey Keating
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Like any good old fashioned horror story, OFF SEASON opens with a ghastly figure warning of something off. Skip to a drawbridge and an unwelcoming gatekeeper and we have all the hallmarks of a well told tale of horror and mystery.
Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother's grave has been vandalized, Marie (Jocelin Donahue) quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where she's buried. Just as she arrives, the island closes for the season as the bridges get raised until springtime. Left stranded, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right as she has one strange interaction after another. She must now unveil the mystery behind her mother's troubled past to make it out alive.
OFF SEASON is the basic framework for a solid haunt and succeeds in balancing an intriguing mystery with some unnerving and genuine jump scares. Mickey Keating's tale is heartfelt and his strongest film to date. Visually, it's certainly enough to be a spiritual rival to the likes of THE FOG and echoes the vibe of SILENT HILL very heavily. A blend between old myths and world building terror, there's a moment when the island first becomes isolated that transports to the opening moments of the SILENT HILL game, at that point, a swooping large bird would not have felt out of place but here the horrors are more demonic.
There's an intriguing premise of an island of inhabitants who learn to live with evil. This could easily have been THE WICKER MAN but refrains from the cultish tones that have stalked every copy cat (KILL LIST, MIDSOMMAR) and instead provide a tale of townsfolk who know what they are and comforted in their solace with the bargain, unfortunately for those trying to escape, it's a much more troublesome venture.
For hardened horror fans there's not a lot that hasn't been seen before but with a great turn from Donahue and some impressive visuals and shock scares, it's certainly entertaining.