Overlook Film Festival 2023 Review: Trim Season

The Overlook Film Festival is back and is sure to be another year full of genre film gems. To kick off my coverage of the festival, I saw the latest film by director Ariel Vida, who previously worked as a production designer on She Dies Tomorrow and The Endless. The film is called Trim Season, and it was written by Vida and David Blair (The Sighting) with the story by Sean E. DeMott, Cullen Gray Poythress, and Megan Turner Sutherland. Together, these creative minds concocted a trippy stoner horror film that perfectly combines supernatural suspense with disturbing imagery and a dash of gore.

Trim Season follows a young woman down on her luck and in desperate need of fast cash. When she learns of a job making a healthy amount of cash working for a couple of weeks as a marijuana trimmer, she reluctantly agrees to take the job. Along with her friend and a few other trimmers, the group travels to a remote area known as the “emerald triangle.” Once they arrive, the group quickly realizes the land and the woman who runs the farm are harboring dark secrets.

There is a lot to enjoy about Trim Season. The film includes a diverse group of characters, each of them feeling like complex, realistic individuals with their own endearing qualities. The filmmakers took care to endear the audience to these characters, making us care about their fate and ultimately heightening the tension throughout the film. Trim Season also has a very layered plot, with multiple subplots intertwining seamlessly. The audience immediately understands the inner turmoil the characters are experiencing, as well as the interpersonal conflicts, but then the mysticism and more sinister elements of what is happening at the farm gradually take center stage. Everything leads to a haunting and disturbing climax that is sure to keep audiences at the edge of their seat. Certain events might even elicit a cheer (at least it did for me).

In general, the plot is quite intriguing. It incorporates horror elements longtime fans will likely be familiar with in new and interesting ways. While the mythos created is fascinating and horrifying, it could have done with perhaps a bit more explanation. There are certain events that really force the audience to come to their own conclusions. In some cases, this works, but it will likely leave some viewers confused. It would have been great to see the lore get the same kind of care that the character development did, but overall the lore is still frightfully good.

Each and every cast member in Trim Season is spectacular. The cast includes familiar faces as well as some relative newcomers, but each and every one of them delivers a memorable performance. The clear standout is Bethlehem Million (Sick), who stars as Emma. Million perfectly conveys Emma as a rather passive woman who often lets others walk all over her, even when it could cost her her job. The growth that we see in Emma throughout the film, and Million’s relatable performance, really carries much of the film. Another great performance comes from Bex Taylor-Klaus (Hell Fest) as Dusty. Dusty is a great character, but what really makes Taylor-Klaus’s performance great is their physicality. There is a scene in which Dusty has to move in jerky, disjointed motions and Taylor-Klaus pulls it off in a way that looks great, but also is likely to make certain audience members cringe. Other wonderful performances come from Alex Essoe (Midnight Mass), Ally Ioannides (V/H/S/99), Juliette Kenn De Balinthazy (Evil), and Jane Badler (2047: Virtual Revolution).

What really will make Trim Season memorable for audiences is the care and attention to detail. It’s clear that everything from the sound design to the costuming was done in a meticulous manner so that every aspect has a purpose. When it comes to the sound, the sound design is vital in how it enhances the more terrifying moments. The score, created by legendary composer Joseph Bishara (Insidious), is a haunting soundscape to get the blood pumping. When it comes to the lighting and set design, there is a rustic, eerie quality that creates a perfect atmosphere for an occult horror film. Certain scenes even take on the look of a work of art. While the practical effects are somewhat minimal, what we do see is very well done. Whether it be gory gashes or oozing blood, everything looks great while still having that indie-film, lower budget charm.

Trim Season is a potent folk horror film telling a story of weed, witchcraft, and self-discovery. Vida brings a unique creative eye to the film, making the visuals just as fascinating as the plot itself. Some might go in expecting a typical, stoner horror-comedy, but this film takes on a more serious tone, making it stand out from other weed-focused horror films. The lore is somewhat familiar, but done in an updated way that feels more relevant to modern audiences. On top of that, the sights and sounds of the film are sure to draw viewers in and incite fear. With relatable characters and superb performances, there’s a lot to enjoy with this film. One thing is for sure, Vida is a director horror fans will want to keep their eye on.


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