Tag Archives: Juliette Kenn De Balinthazy

Up In Smoke

Trim Season

by Hope Madden

A fine blend of supernatural chiller, cabin-in-the-woods horror, ecological thriller and cautionary tale, Trim Season may be the first weed-based horror film that doesn’t go for laughs.

Emma (Bethlehem Million) needs purpose. She needs direction. She needs cash. Emma just lost her restaurant job, and she owes her roommate months of back rent. Her lifelong BFF Julia (Alexandra Essoe, Starry Eyes, The Pope’s Exorcist) pays for a night out to lift her spirits. There, new buddy James (Marc Senter, not subtle) talks them into a two-week, high pay seasonal gig trimming cannabis out in the wilds.

Emma knows better but her options are limited, so off she goes.

Co-writer/director Ariel Vida mines drug-fueled, dreamy, out-of-control territory where better horror films have blossomed: Mandy, Hagazussa, Lovely Molly. Vida overlays nightmarish images with smoke haze and bleary audio just often enough to conjure a nightmarish high that is, of course, more nightmare than high.

The film’s opening is especially enjoyable. Vida captures a verdant, primal quality to the prologue that both sets the stage and delivers real horror. Though the balance of the film never fully lives up to that splashy intro, it keeps your interest.

Million and Essoe deliver solid performances, as do Ally Ioannides and Juliette Kenn De Balinthazy as two other doomed trimmers. Cory Hart, playing the hot headed eldest son to the villainous matriarch Mona (Jane Badler), skillfully anchors every scene he’s in.

Some plotting conveniences limit the ability to suspend disbelief and Badler’s campy villain lacks depth. It’s unfortunate, because it’s the film’s juiciest part but the delivery is superficial sinister at best. The situation is exacerbated by the third act reveal. Because the film’s mythology is never more than hinted at, the climax feel a bit unsatisfying.

Still, there’s a lot to recommend Trim Season. Luka Bazeli’s cinematography is both lush and claustrophobic, tapping simultaneously into a wonder and terror of the woods. Some of the horror imagery is impressive as well. And Vida takes the subject matter seriously, which is itself a refreshing change of pace.