Written and directed by horror filmmaker Mickey Keating, Offseason imagines an isolated resort town as the center of tourism and paranormal activity.
When Marie (Jocelin Donahue) receives word that her mother Ava’s (Melora Walters) grave has been desecrated, she and her ex George (Joe Swanberg) travel to Block Island to meet with the cemetery caretaker. It’s the end of summer and the island has just been closed off to tourists. But Marie and George can’t wait until spring when the island re-opens so they convince the bridgekeeper to let them through. Upon arrival, Marie can’t find the caretaker or anyone connected to the cemetery. And the year-round residents she does encounter are all behaving oddly. When the two try to leave the island, they discover that all roads lead to nowhere. Marie reveals to George the mythology her mom shared with her about Block Island. After many years of devastating storms, the island residents made a deal with a water monster/demon for eternal salvation. The deal came at a price. Marie doesn’t believe this is true but knows that her mother Ava has always feared this place. Will Marie and George be able to get off the island in time? Or will they be trapped there for eternity?
The Shudder original film Offseason offers some fun summertime spooks especially for those who love demonic/paranormal horror. It’s an interesting concept and I was drawn in by the trailer. Don’t go in expecting too much as it has some confusing mythology and questionable dialogue (ex: “I’m going to shoot you and it’s going to hurt.”). The best part of the film is Melora Walters’ performance as Ava, the tormented mother. Her opening monologue is quite captivating.
When Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) takes her girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) to David’s (Pete Davidson) mansion for a hurricane party, their reception is tepid at best. Sophie is out of rehab and had stayed away from her booze and drug loving friends for a bit of space. As the group starts to get acquainted, they play a murder mystery game called “Bodies Bodies Bodies” where its tag you’re dead. What starts off as an innocent game starts to get deadly when friends start turning up dead and the hurricane has knocked out the power and cell phone reception.
Directed by Halina Reijn, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a helluva lot of fun. I attended the world premiere at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas and the crowd roared with laughter. Rachel Sennott has a standout role as Alice, the daft friend whose much older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) becomes the first suspect. She’s got some great lines and is really the heart of the film’s comedic core.
When the lights are off, the characters must navigate through darkness guided by only the light of their smartphones. This adds a cool and creepy element to the movie. There is also a delicious twist at the end. Bodies Bodies Bodies offers a great combination of spooks and laughs that is sure to please horror fans.
Bodies Bodies Bodies had its world premiere at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.
The presence of three black women at a predominantly white New England college unleashes a dark and mysterious force in the new horror movie Master. Written and directed by Mariama Diallo in her feature debut, the film stars Regina Hall as Gail Bishop, the new “Master”, aka dean of students, for the fictional Ancaster College. As Bishop tries to settle into her new role at Ancaster, she’s tasked with guiding the board of directors in deciding whether the only black professor on campus, Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), deserves tenure. One of Beckman’s students, freshman Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), is struggling to acclimate to Ancaster as she’s constantly confronted with subtle but potent forms of racism from faculty, staff, and fellow students. Ancaster is known to be haunted by a former student and Jasmine happens to have been assigned the same room where the student had committed suicide decades before. As the holidays approach, the deeply rooted racism that has been part of Ancaster’s history from the very beginning manifests itself into an evil force that is hellbent on destroying the women.
Master tackles one of the horrors of our everyday world. In the film, racism haunts its victims like a ghost. It’s a mysterious force that takes many forms and is passed down through generations. It persists no matter how much the characters struggle against it or how much they’re gaslit to believe that progress has been made. Diallo effectively demonstrates the power of racism in pretty much every aspect of this film. The message is there: racism will never truly go away. And that is a horrifying reality.
A must-watch, especially for the performances by Regina Hall and Zoe Renee.
Master premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and will be available on Amazon Prime March 18th.
Directed by Lee Haven Jones, The Feast is a Welsh horror film that pits the characters’ own greed and selfishness against themselves. Glenda (Nia Roberts) and Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) are hosting a dinner party at their home to convince their neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to take a business proposition from Euros (Rhodri Meilir). Gwyn is a politician who’s made money hand over fist with shady business deals especially when it comes to crude oil. Their sons Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) and Guto (Steffan Cennydd) are outliers at the party, bitter against their parents and both engage in their own forms of self-punishment. The force of chaos comes in the form of Cadi (Annes Elwy) a young woman Glenda has hired to help with the dinner. Cadi is mysterious, quiet and about to give the dinner guests a taste of their own medicine.
The Feast is a visually captivating but ultimately shallow revenge horror film. The conceit is neither explained nor is it able to be pieced together with clues from different scenes. The mystery lacks resolution and will ultimately leave the viewer unsatisfied.
The Feast is distributed by IFC Films and available to rent on demand.
Something always been a little off about Alexia (Agathe Rousselle). As a child, she did not get along with her emotionally distant father. Their involvement in a terrible car accident sends Alexia to the hospital where doctors treat her skull fracture by adding a titanium plate. Fast forward to more than a decade later and Alexia has developed a lust for metal. She gyrates on top of cars for a living. She’s also the mysterious serial killer who the police are desperate to identify. When one of her victims escapes, Alexia transforms to Adrien, pretending to be firefighter Vincent Legrand’s (Vincent Lindon) long lost son. What Alexia doesn’t realize is that she’s met her match with Vincent. And what Vincent doesn’t realize is that “Adrien” is hiding some terrible secrets.
Directed by Julia Ducournau, Titane is a wild ride. It’s relentlessly brutal, completely bonkers and yet it somehow makes sense even when it doesn’t. Rousselle and Lindon have a raw intensity that is perfect for their messed-up characters. Ducournau explores the father-daughter dynamic in a way I’ve never seen before. There are a few plot holes but you get so sucked into the craziness of the story that they really don’t matter. Titane is not for the faint of heart but if you’re into body horror, this film is for you.
Update: Titaneis distributed by Neon and is available to rent on demand.