“Trim Season” Mixes Mysticism and Marijuana For a Potent Blend of Gen Z Horror

We’ve all seen our share of stoner movies. From Up In Smoke and Half Baked to Dude, Where’s My Car? and Dazed and Confused, these irreverent films tend to be hangout movies in which a couple of (usually male) stoner buddies struggle to navigate mundane tasks while charmingly baked out of their minds. On the opposite end of the cinematic spectrum is the witch movie. This particular brand of feminine horror often follows a woman cast out due to her spiritual beliefs or a malevolent sorceress exerting her power. Rarely do the two cross paths. However, Ariel Vida’s Trim Season shows that they may have more in common than meets the eye. By connecting both disparate subgenres to the earth from which they rise, Vida weaves a frightening tale of gen z horror that feels simultaneously gothic and modern.

Emma (Bethlehem Million) is a down on her luck twenty-something trying to make ends meet with miniscule resources and scant opportunities. On a rare night out to drown her sorrows, she meets James (Marc Senter) who seems to have the answer to her prayers. Along with family friend Julia (Alexandra Essoe), she travels to the Emerald Triangle for Trim Season, a two week contract that pays by the pound for how much bud she’s able to trim. But this dreamy utopia may hide a dangerous secret. Mona (Jane Badler) runs the farm with a glamorous intensity that vacillates between maternal compassion and ruthlessness. Smoking only her own cultivated stash of powerful weed, Mona may be wielding more than just control of this lucrative agricultural endeavor. 

Trim Season is a fascinating blend of new and old. Vida takes cannabis back to its roots and explores elements of cantheism with Mona’s devotion to this curated strain. But we’re introduced to this world of reverence and tradition through a group of gen z outcasts struggling to make room for themselves in a world that’s changing too slowly. Each carries their own modern burdens from non-traditional identities and rare disabilities to the economic troubles inherited from older generations. The horror emerges from the clash between these two opposing realities and their struggles for ultimate control. Mona flirts with mentorship and seems to see something of herself in Emma, but when push comes to shove, she will do whatever it takes to maintain her dominion over the land and everyone on it.

Vida takes an interesting approach to gore effects and ties sinister intent to the color of blood. One puff from Mona’s secret stash leads to dire and bloody consequences. A similar fate awaits anyone who tries to leave the farm without permission. Vida uses practical effects when possible, but the majority of these horrific altercations rest on the shoulders of her exceptional cast. Seemingly moved by invisible threads, they jerk their way through death scenes, screaming as they hurtle towards an unavoidable fate. Mona’s method of enacting violence might seem silly on paper, but a confident execution leads to horrific results. While not exactly revelatory, Trim Season merges gen z culture and folk horror in a story that feels progressive and new. A microcosm of the clash between generational power forms a poignant reminder to listen to each other lest we ensure our own mutual destruction.

Jenn Adams is a writer, podcaster, and film critic from Nashville, TN. Find her social media nonsense @jennferatu.