Review by Cole Groth
Outpost tells a familiar story: a woman with a troubled past tries to escape the demons of her past, only to find them boiling over as her sanity drifts away. With snappy production and a solid first hour, it’s a huge letdown when the already generic premise gets wasted in an unusually mean-spirited series of twists and an ending that’ll leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Writer/Director Joe Lo Truglio’s screenplay tells the tale of Kate (Beth Dover), an abused woman who seeks solitude by volunteering for the local fire watch job. She’s recently left her husband and is supported by her friend Nickie (Ta’Rea Campbell), whose brother, Earl (Ato Essandoh), gets Kate the job. While the first few weeks provide the solace that Kate was looking for, her sanity begins to slip away after uncomfortable interactions with her peers, hallucinations, and her inner demons coming back for her.
Lo Truglio’s script does an excellent job of exploring the grief of Kate’s character. Instead of taking a dramatic approach, though, he turns the film into a psychological thriller that undermines the character development of Kate. While some good scares and creepy moments will keep horror fans intrigued, he leans too heavily into the thrills and turns a fascinating character study into an over-the-top mess. The biggest disappointment is the last twenty minutes. To stray away from spoilers, I won’t discuss any of the specifics, but it’s important to note that many viewers will tune out after a final twist turns the film into an intense slasher.
On the technical side of things, Outpost succeeds. Beth Dover is excellent and perfectly balances the wide array of Kate’s emotions. The rest of the cast does a great job in their respective roles, as well, with Becky Ann Baker’s performance as Bertha being a standout. Frank Barrera’s cinematography is excellent, showcasing both the beauty and horrors of nature with ease. The pacing is solid, and while the last 20 minutes are unpleasant, they at least don’t feel very long.
As far as horror goes, Lo Truglio has directed a genuinely horrific film. Many moments will send chills down the spines of viewers, and each moment of gore is as shocking as the last. Lo Truglio does a great job of disarming the viewer, only to jolt them back into a state of disgust. Those squeamish to gore will want to look away.
It’s a shame that a lackluster third act ruins Outpost because the rest of the film is a solidly entertaining thriller with good emotional undertones. Fans of psychological thrillers won’t find anything too new in this, but as somebody who doesn’t enjoy films about people losing their sanity, this one felt like more of the same unpleasant experience.
Outpost releases on VOD May 19.