Jocelin Donahue on her southern gothic horror, ‘Offseason’

Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.
Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil) stars in the stunningly creepy horror film, Offseason.

Written and Directed by Mickey Keating (Darling, Ritual, Carnage Park, Pod), this American Gothic horror follows a woman (Donahue) who travels to a desolate island town after receiving a mysterious letter and soon becomes trapped in a nightmare.

“Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s gravesite has been vandalized, Marie quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving her stranded. One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past in order to make it out alive.”

Check out my interview with Jocelin!

How did you come to be a part of the movie? 

Jocelin: Mickey reached out. He sent the scripts over first and I was reading them right away. Then we sat down and had a long chat about his vision for it and his touch points for the tone and the style of it. And learning that he was actually from about an hour from where it was set and that he wanted to shoot it down in New Smyrna, Florida where we shot, I just knew that he would bring such a strong sense of place to it and and I really wanted to work with him knowing his work and how distinctive each of his films are and what great performances he gets.

Have you worked with him before?

Jocelin: No, I had seen Darling and Carnage Park and I think we probably know a lot of the same people from the horror community, but it was our first time working together.

What was it like working with Mickey? Was it everything you expected it to be?

Jocelin: He’s such a passionate filmmaker. He would always just say, ‘this is giving me life.’ I really do feel like he kind of lives to create these cinematic moments and he just gets so excited about what movies can do, what performance can do and what an extreme close up can be or what seeing something emerging from the fog or seeing the general outlines of something, like how scary that can be. So, he’s just very inventive and playful and that’s infectious. The rest of the crew could feel that, too. And, and he came with his DP, Mac Fisken, who’s just super, super talented. They were really prepared. They had storyboarded everything before we got there. It was a great environment, and each set is different and this one really was just a lot of fun and felt really creative.

Jocelin Donahue as Marie Aldrich and Joe Swanberg as George Darrow in the horror
film, OFFSEASON. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.
You mentioned the setting a little bit ago, it was both beautiful and creepy at the same time. Can you repeat where you filmed this?

Jocelin: It was in this town called New Smyrna, which is about an hour south of Daytona. It was a little resort, touristy town built in the 1940s, so the main street really looks kind of unchanged from then. And that really helped to give this kind of timeless feel to the film. That was where the townspeople were, where the fishermen lived. And then we also were shooting all around the Apollo National Seashore, which is this really lush, almost jumbly, tropical seaside setting, which really led so much to the atmosphere in the film, too.

How would you describe this movie?

Jocelin: Offseason is about a woman who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, who has to visit the place where she’s buried and learn a family secret, a horrific family secret, that she must then cope with. But I would say that it’s kind of a Southern Gothic meets classic horror tale, a nightmare.

What was it like working with the cast, especially the almost zombified townsfolk?

Jocelin: Marie is kind of like an avatar for the audience because she’s encountering all of these weird characters. So, it was really fun to kind of bounce off of all the different energies whether it was like you say, kind of like these creepy town people who, you know, and there’s a sense also that Maria is like an urban person coming down to a place, a little town and she’s a fish out of water. She’s uncomfortable and then you wonder, like, is she projecting this on these people or is there something ominous about them? It was interesting to watch Marie realize that what seemed implausible was actually what was going on. And then with the rest of the cast, there were so many different wonderful actors that I just admire and respect so much. It was so great to work with Joe (Swanberg) who I’ve always wanted to work with, and we have like this kind of tense drama in our relationship already happening when we arrived there. Melora (Walters) is a phenomenal actress and she’s just a really generous scene partner. Then, of course, Richard Brake, who has such a commanding, scary presence. It was amazing to face off with him. Jeremy Gardner, who I love so much as a filmmaker, I loved his movie After Midnight, and then to work with him as a scene partner was so cool. He brought a lot of ideas and he just has great instincts. So yeah, Marie gets to kind of bounce off of all different kinds of energies in this film. 

Jocelin Donahue as Marie Aldrich in the horror film, OFFSEASON. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.
There were quite a few jump scares, at least they were jump scares for me. Did you ever get scared on set?

Jocelin: Well, I knew those jumpscares were coming, so not in those moments, but you do kind of set yourself up for the scenes where you’re going to be scared. Like, physically you can try to feel that way, either by running or hyperventilating. But I would say that the only time I actually felt scared was when I was running through fog and couldn’t see the ground in front of me. There were a few times where I was worried I would fall flat on my face. But otherwise, I just used the acting to get into the scary moments.

What do you hope that the audience takes away after seeing this movie?

Jocelin: I hope that they leave unsettled. I hope that they leave with their own interpretations. I think that this is a film that actually, through repeated viewings, I think you’ll find little breadcrumbs throughout. So, I hope that they’ll want to go back and try to learn more and uncover more about the mythology of this place and want to spend more time in this creepy seaside town with us.

So what’s next for you? Are you working on any other projects?

Jocelin: I am tying up a few things but I’m hoping to be shooting a feature in May. And then I have another project coming out later this year that’s a really innovative narrative video game. From the director, Sam Barlow. He’s made some really cool games and that was my first time working on a video game. So yeah, I look forward to that. 

Is there anything else you would like to add about Offseason?

Jocelin: I hope that people will go see it and rent it and it’s just so exciting that we get to come out in some theaters next week. And thanks to the horror community for their support.

Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.
Offseason will be released in limited theaters, and on Digital HD and VOD platforms March 11, 2022.