Home Film ‘Offseason’ Review – An Unforgettable, Spine-Chilling Horror | SXSW 2021

‘Offseason’ Review – An Unforgettable, Spine-Chilling Horror | SXSW 2021

by Ben Rolph
Jocelin Donahue as seen in the SXSW 2021 horror film Offseason.

Offseason just might be the most inventive and haunting film of the year so far. It’s incredibly bold in its stylistic choices and is backed by Doctor Sleep‘s Jocelin Donahue, who delivers a fiercely believable and devotedly brilliant performance. The film leaves an impact way beyond its final hazy and haunting frame. Every single moment with its spine-chilling undertones is to be admired and obsessed upon.

Marie Aldrich (Donahue) is lost after the death of her mother (Joe Swanberg). As part of her final wish, Marie’s mother begged her to never take her back to the island town from which she came from. Confused and at a loss, she allows her mother to be buried where she pleaded not to be. Everything changes as Marie receives a mysterious letter stating that her mother’s grave was vandalized. Marie proceeds to travel to that very island town, but what awaits her is an endless nightmare.

Defying the basic rules of conventional filmmaking, Offseason is a hauntingly poetic and beautifully shot film. Directed by Mickey Keating with cinematography by Mac Fisken, the images they capture become ingrained in one’s mind. Shots of the island’s isolated blue-drenched beaches invoke a constant dream-like mood. The cinematography’s sleekly-designed composition, which is filled with beautiful blues and hellish reds, allows spectators to become fully engrossed in Offseason‘s nightmarish tale.

Rich with a haunting atmosphere that trickles throughout, Offseason is a startling film that shakes one to the core. It’s almost as if the island comes to life as the locations seep with fog that shroud one’s vision, as well as the characters’. Fisken’s cinematography is a marvel to behold in its capturing of the mood that Keating tries to evoke. One can’t help but gasp at its dreamy composition and framing, as it follows Donahue’s Marie into a real-life torment. Offseason‘s atmosphere is aided by its unsettling score and great sound design, providing multiple layers of tension on top of the terrifying images seen.

The twists and turns of Offseason are unforgettable, striking a tone of relentless dread as one watches the residents of the town close in on Marie. The forces at play are mythical and gothic beyond all else, which leads to the spectator’s unnerving sense of terror that is ripe throughout. Everything works and is firing off on all cylinders in this brilliantly-crafted horror. Jocelin Donahue leaves a deep imprint on one’s mind as she performs extremely convincingly, besting a lot of really great recent performances. Offseason is a must-see film that is sure to haunt anyone for days on end.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Offseason was selected to play at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival!

Check out more of our 2021 festival coverage here!

Follow Senior Film Critic Ben Rolph on Twitter: @THEDCTVSHOW

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