Reviewed By Ross Hughes
“Weird, confusing, but somewhat enchanting……….”
Lets get the first part over with. Outcast is not an easy watch. I always get frustrated when many films, not just horror, feel the need to spell out the plot to the audience. Some treat us like children, a need to show us where they going, even though at times its only from A to B. Its an accusation that I can not place on this Irish horror. It will no doubt leave you questioning what the heck is going on, there is a mix of three horror genres all going off at the same time, and do not even take you eyes off this film for a second, any line missed, any scene not seen, you will pay for later. It demands your full attention and one thing you can guantee from Outcast is that you will never ever be bored.
Now to the second part. If you have seen the recent adverts for this film you will no doubt see the name Karen Gillian who of course is now famous for her role has Amy Pond in Doctor Who above the title. Its plain to see that its a marketing ploy to get all Who fans to buy this DVD even though being an 18 certificate, it makes no sense because I very much doubt parents are going to rush out and buy this for their little nippers, and for the much older generation, then I am going to save you the bother because its such a small cameo that its a case of a blink and miss it!
That is not to say you should not buy this horror though, because maybe with the feelings of being swept away by all things Black Swan, that I am really happy to see another horror that dares to be different. Outcast is simply a love story combined with a coming of age that harks back to the style of say Ginger Snaps. There is a depth of realism that oozes from the screen, you swear that this could happen even though the story goes into the realms of magic and creature transformation.
The story when I look back is all about the lovely Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge) whose life is a total mess. She lives in a tower block that bares massive resemblance to the Nelson Mandela blocks in Only Fools and Horses but even more rundown. The place is a stench of poverty. The many walls are full of graffiti, gangs of hoodies loot outside and Petronella lives bang in the middle of it all. To make things worse, her father is absent, her mother loves the drink and her brother is disabled, which means she looks after him day and night. When Fergal (Niall Bruton) moves in next door with his mother, he is seen as light to her misery. Good looking but quiet, they strike up a relationship that blossoms into romance. All things move slowly but unknown to her is what goes on beyond the door of his flat. His mum Mary (a splendid Kate Dickie) makes sure the clothes Fergal wears everyday are washed, there are strange drawings painted on the walls, and importantly, she sits on her knees naked, her body covered in symbols while chanting in some unknown dialogue. Fergel refers her as a witch to Pertronella but its plain that his mother is hiding from someone and maybe keeping her son from danger.
But from who?
In another plot thread we find Cathal (a quite stunning James Nesbitt) going through a ceremony which grants him powers. His body like what we glimpse of Mary’s is covered in black symbols and the film is very vague as to what is happening, all we get to know is that Cathal is in town and needs to be joined by a fellow Irish town member who knows how to enhance the powers he has been given. Its only after a while we get the jist that its Fergal he needs to kill. That is not really a spoiler because once you spot the same symbols on Cathal and Mary you get the picture and it happens early on and its probably the only time the film offers you a hand in the quite complicated plot. Why though? is something you have to find out, because I probably could write thousand more words to describe everything that happens here.
In yet another plot thread the film goes into what can only be described as a Werewolf movie, we see the full moon and the local residents being killed by this vicious thing that hides in the shadows. So there you have it already, we have a love story combined with a magic tale with a hairy beast right bang in the middle of it. Lets not forget the coming of age story has Fergal starts to turn from boy to man, much to the warning of his mother who tells him “you know what will happen if you give in!”, a reference to his feelings of lust towards Petronella.
Keeping up yet?
Outcast is a really bold Irish movie that deserves praise for being so damn different. Its original from start to finish and the acting is spot on. The only time the film becomes predictable is the final ten minutes when you can guess the ending a mile off, but before you get to that point you will have no idea what is going on. I know that this will be the one horror that will divide many fans in 2011. I can see some giving up half way through, while others wondering why the fuss, but if you require something different and a film that demands attention then this is for you.
Its nice that this is being raved about on the Internet with many well known film sites jumping on the bandwagon. Its gritty and joins Black Swan as one of the most unusual horrors of the year. While the genre is awash with sequels and pointless remakes, Outcast simply strives to be different and for that despite the headache you get from watching, its the second film I have seen this year that demands to be seen……
OVERALL: Believe the hype that is building, Outcast may be demanding at times, but with top notch acting and a gritty set, this Irish horror is tipped to be the best 2011 offers!………..
4 OUT OF 5