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OFF SEASON (2012)
Published by David Carter on 2015/2/8 (846 reads)
Directed by Katie Carman-Lehach
Review by David Carter
Released by Cinema Epoch
Running Time: 83 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo English
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Bonus Footage
Trailer Online: Yes
Short Version: Slow-burning spookfest
The financial crisis from a few years ago had a profound impact on the world but, unlike similar events, failed to spawn a cinematic response. Granted, the details of derivative swaps don’t exactly lend themselves well to action, comedy, or romance, but this major event has been practically ignored by filmmakers. As always, innovation comes from outside the mainstream and young filmmaker Katie Carman-Lehach has adapted elements of the Wall Street swindle as a backdrop for her latest film OFF SEASON. The supernaturally-tinged thriller is now available on DVD from Cinema Epoch.
Sylvie Stone seemingly has a perfect life. Or to be more exact, she had the perfect life. Sylvie’s husband Derrick has just been convicted of swindling the public out of millions and, even though she’s in the process of divorcing him, she’s seen as being as guilty as he is. In order to find some peace and quiet, Sylvie retreats to a beach house where she won’t be recognized. She’s far from her normal world of assistants and limousines but she has brought with her one resource: several bundles of cash from her husband’s ill-gotten gains.
Sylvie – now going incognito as “Clare” – has little interaction with people since the beach is abandoned during the off season. Her only companion is Deshawn, a delivery boy with whom she strikes up a romance. Deshawn helps Sylvie take her mind off of her problems but only temporarily. She’s become increasingly haunted by disturbing visions and mysterious occurrences in the house. Something seems to be lurking around the property, but she is unsure exactly what it might be. Is it her soon-to-be ex-husband? Ghosts of past residents? Her own conscience? After a brief trip back to the city, Sylvie returns to the beach house to confront her fears – and whatever has been tormenting her.
OFF SEASON takes a slow, laid back pace inspired by the time of year after which it is named. Writer/star Elizabeth Lee’s Sylvie is the film’s focus and ultimately the movie is less about what happens than it is about her reaction to it. The supernatural elements are introduced slowly and somewhat subtly and this technique is more effective than if the film had abruptly shifted gears into a full-on ghost story. Despite this, the film may have a difficult time holding some viewers’ attention due to a lack of narrative movement.
OFF SEASON is directed well, with Carman-Lehach framing scenes in an interesting way and saturating scenes with color to help set the mood. Cinema Epoch’s DVD brings these to life on the small screen well, giving the film a more polished look than its modest budget would imply. Writer/star Elizabeth Lee also does a commendable job of bringing Sylvie to life but both her performance and Carman-Lehach’s direction would be better served by a denser narrative. As it stands, OFF SEASON feels too much like a short film that has been stretched too far.
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