REVIEW: Offseason (2021)

dir. Mickey Keating

During the 2010s Mickey Keating marked himself out as a remarkable indie horror voice with the likes of Darling, Carnage Park and Psychopaths. And now, after a four-year absence, he has returned with the truly haunting Offseason, a genre delight with an ensemble familiar to many a horror fan.

Keating’s latest – which he also writes – follows Marie Aldrich (another stellar genre turn from Jocelin Donahue) as she travels to an island off the coast of Florida due to her mother’s grave having been desecrated. Things, naturally, aren’t what they appear, and she soon becomes trapped in the isolated hellhole.

Offseason is perhaps the closest we’ll get to a good Silent Hill film. Although missing the monsters that came from that series, the film is etched with many of the same themes that rip through Konami’s second-best franchise (after Metal Gear Solid). The loss of a loved one and the complicated grief this breeds play out alongside something all-together more Lovecraftian and cosmic, forming a perplexing mystery box imbued with the same quality that Carpenter brought to his Apocalypse trilogy.

On the technical side it’s remarkably accomplished. Shawn Duffy’s sound design and Shayfer James’ score delicately weave together for a genuinely upsetting soundscape, whilst Sabrena Allen-Biron’s production design gives a lived-in quality to enhance the uneasy atmosphere that runs throughout. And DP Mac Fisken lends the film an evocative and oft-beautiful look, highlighting why he is Keating’s go-to cinematographer.

Upsetting, beguiling, compelling and all a bit… inexplicable, few films have gotten the decaying horror of a seaside town so right. You won’t necessarily enjoy your visit to the island, but Offseason will linger long after the sun sets on its shore.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Russell Bailey

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