Review by Sean Boelman
Trim Season offers an intriguing premise — a mix of crime thriller and horror set against the backdrop of the drug trade. While there are moments of greatness scattered throughout the runtime, one can’t help but feel like the film does not live up to its potential, with a script that leans too heavily on tropes to work.
The movie follows a group of young people who travel to a remote marijuana farm with the promise of making a lot of money in a short period of time, only to discover that they may have unwittingly gotten involved in a more sinister scheme. The film’s biggest mistake is that it clearly thinks it is more unpredictable than it is, as the twists are all telegraphed a mile away.
One of the biggest problems with the movie is its pacing, which is enormously inconsistent. The first act of the film is extraordinarily slow, providing us with too much exposition and set-up. When the action finally begins in the second act, the pacing moves too quickly, making everything feel hectic and hard-to-follow.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the movie is that its characters are shallow. The motivation for all of the characters is exactly the same: they’re trying to make money. Although there are some slight variations in the reason why they are broke, the stakes aren’t sufficient for us to sympathize with them putting themselves in this dangerous situation.
Some of the characters are also questionably written. For example, there is a non-binary character played by Bex Taylor-Klaus, and while this representation was welcome at first, the third act takes a frustrating turn that presents a shockingly reductive view of non-binary people, even if this may not have been the intention.
That being said, there are some legitimately good performances in the film. Jane Badler is a scene-stealer as the crime lord matriarch who runs this drug operation. Her performance is very big and exaggerated, but it infuses a much-needed feeling of energy into the movie. Bethlehem Million also makes for a solidly charismatic lead.
The best thing about the film is its imagery, which is often brutal and effective. Ariel Vida does a great job of creating some kill scenes that will be pretty haunting, but the movie does admittedly peak early — with the first death being the most unsettling by far. Still, especially heading into the more supernatural-driven third act, there are some creatively executed sequences.
There is enough good in Trim Season to make it worth watching, and to serve as a strong calling card for director Ariel Vida, but the script will leave viewers feeling more frustrated than satisfied. There is a great movie somewhere in here — it just needed another edit.
Trim Season screened at the 2023 Overlook Film Festival, which ran March 30-April 2 in New Orleans, LA.