Trim Season, directed by Ariel Vida, ingeniously marries the unlikely realms of horror and cannabis culture, creating a tale that defies convention and captivates with its blend of stoner allure and supernatural intrigue. Ariel Vida's visionary narration masterfully interweaves these seemingly disparate elements, transporting the audience into a world where the mundane and the supernatural intertwine in a hypnotic dance. This genre-bending film, which crosses traditional horror boundaries, tackles profound themes of self-discovery, gender dynamics and arcana.
At the heart of the story is Emma, played with raw authenticity by the talented Bethlehem Million. Faced with a difficult financial situation, Emma's decision to join a group of cannabis cutters on an isolated farm becomes the catalyst for a series of strange and unsettling events. Emma's transformation, spurred on by her friend Julia, played by Alex Essoe, becomes a captivating focal point. Million's performance perfectly captures Emma's evolution from passivity to self-assurance, inviting the audience to participate in her emotional odyssey.
Ariel Vida's casting prowess is exemplified in his ensemble, which infuses the plot with a range of personalities and backgrounds. Bex Taylor-Klaus, as Dusty, stands out with a performance that oscillates between unease and fascination, deftly adding layers to the narrative. Ally Ioannides, Juliette Kenn De Balinthazy and Jane Badler also deliver outstanding performances, each contributing to the film's enigmatic, haunting atmosphere.
The film's meticulous craftsmanship extends beyond the cast, as evidenced by Joseph Bishara's haunting sound design and score. The lighting effects and intricate sets transport viewers to the isolated farmhouse, where an aura of unease pervades the air. Infrequent but precise practical effects punctuate the narrative, reinforcing the film's indie aesthetic and offering moments of hard-hitting terror.
Trim Season weaves a complex tapestry of subplots, plunging viewers into a labyrinth of mysteries that gradually unveil the enigmatic secrets of the farm and its inhabitants. While the film easily draws its audience into its mystical embrace, there are instances where the complex story could have benefited from additional exposition to avoid potential confusion.
In the midst of evolving horror conventions and a reassessment of gender dynamics, Trim Season emerges thanks to its unique focus on female and non-binary perspectives. By challenging the traditionally male-centric representation of stoner culture, the film breathes new life into the genre. The authenticity of representation achieved through the diverse cast and character-driven narrative is testament to the film's commitment to authentic storytelling.
Ariel Vida's directorial prowess is palpable, lending the film an atmosphere that oscillates between poetic beauty and spine-chilling horror. The visual compositions slide from hypnotic to visceral, amplifying the film's emotional impact. Although the pace is deliberately slow, reflecting the gradual ascent of a joint, there are moments when tighter editing could have heightened the suspense.
Trim Season is an exciting exploration of the link between horror, cannabis culture and the supernatural. The film's eloquent performances, meticulous artistry and stimulating narrative combine to deliver an unparalleled cinematic journey, rich in suspense and strangeness. Although certain facets of the story could have benefited from further exploration, the adventure into the occult realm of the Emerald Triangle leaves an indelible mark. Ariel Vida's cinematic debut defies convention, breaking new ground in the horror genre and establishing her as a director to watch.
Directed by Ariel Vida
Produced by Jane Badler, Cameron Burns, Sean E. DeMott, Paul Holbrook, Aaron B. Koontz
Written by David Blair, Ariel Vida
Starring Bethlehem Million, Alex Essoe, Ally Ioannides, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Jane Badler, Juliette Kenn De Balinthazy, Ryan Donowho, Cory Hart, Marc Senter, Paris Warner, Lorenzo Antonucci, Austin R. Grant, Maddie Henderson, Chelsea Jurkiewicz Arianna Scott, Corynn Treadwell
Music by Joseph Bishara
Cinematography : Luka Bazeli
Edited by Joseph Shahood
Running time : 100 minutes
Viewed August 14, 2023 (Frightfest press screener)