9 out of 10
Release Date: 10th December 2010
Director: Colm McCarthy
Cast: Kate Dickie, James Nesbitt, Niall Bruton, Hanna Stanbridge, Ciaran McMenamin and James Cosmo
Writer: Colm McCarthy
Another week, another werewolf movie on Britpic street. But wow, what a werewolf movie this turns out to be. In fact is the monster on display here even a lycan? It’s only referred to as ‘The Beast’, so lets just leave it at that for now. **Editors note: It’s actually a Celtic shapeshifter known as a Sith.** What I can be sure of though, is that this is the best UK monster flick I have seen in a seriously long time. The tale is simple but the bloodied lily has been gilded with exceptional style and originality. Wow. Despite nursing a hangover today I was left breathless by this flick. Witchcraft is high on the menu and spells n’ spooky incantations are thrust centre stage. There is no space for brevity in Outcast. This makes the use of black magic all the more effective. Some of the background history is left deliberately murky but no doubt a bit of research into the occult will shed some rhyme and reason to it all.
Mary (KATE DICKIE – PROMETHEUS) and Fergal (NIALL BRUTON) have spent the last 15 years hiding out. But now they have chosen to stop running and face their enemies on a high rise housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Also, two men, Cathal (JAMES NESBITT – THE WAY) and Liam (CIARAN MACMENAMIN) have been granted the right to seek them out by any means necessary. Meanwhile, a beast is seen to be stalking residents of the estate both in broad daylight and at night. To exacerbate all this, Fergal is instantly attracted to the next door neighbour, Petronella (HANNA STANBRIDGE). This upsets his mother to degrees that give us cause to scratch our heads in wonderment. I won’t go any further because its not the plot that holds any surprises it’s its maguffins. The events we are seeing played out against drab council estate trapping are not of this world. Birds are sacrificed in order to guide hunters, bird eggs are communicators, talismen are daubed on to walls or tattooed on bodies, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. In creating a completely new universe it is portrayed with clarity and a refreshing conviction.
Kate Dickie returns to the high rises of Andrea Arnold’s Red Road to deliver another astonishing performance. It’s a fearless, primal and very scary performance. She is matched equally by James Nesbitt, who is primarily known for lighter roles. His hungry and murderous Cathal, has echoes of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but there are no baked theatrics here. I’ve never seen a genre pic pulled off with so much confidence or conviction in it’s own world. The location is perfect, as high rise estates do harbour comparisons to haunted houses. The stories that must be hidden behind them rows of windows. The cut off nature of the higher rise flats. The identikit appearance that was designed to be a place for leading a good life that became a living hell and by-word for no-go area. The air of disappointment and wasted lives echo throughout. When a particular character is cursed to walk the landings of the estate for eternity you aren’t without fear. It’s a fate that’ll put the fear of god into you.
Outcast is all the more effective for believing in it’s own world. The spells and dynamics seem thoroughly plausible in our world and that’s why this film works so well. There are no comedy beats and there’s no room for any hope. Even our heroines are without a path. The predictable conclusion is perhaps the only ending that would fit Outcast because this is not one of those horrors that demand watered down sequels or prequels. It is perfect as a one-off. It is reminiscent of Candyman but even better because it has the perfect ingredients to become and ‘urban legend’. It also has the realistic edge that ran throughout Kill List. They could both be set in the same universe actually.
9 out of 10 – More spells than all 8 Harry Potter films, this is probably the best “man in a rubber-suit” movie of the decade. (If I can think of a better one I’ll come back and edit this.) Some career best performances, a wonderful plot, scary locations and a bag of invention set this apart from just about every other horror movie in recent memory.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Kate Dickie: The Witch, Not Another Happy Ending, For Those In Peril, Filth, Shell, Now Is Good, Prometheus, Somers Town, Red Road, Summer (2008)
- James Nesbitt: The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies, Gold, Babylon (TV), The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit – A Unexpected Journey, Coriolanus, Cherrybomb, The Way, Match Point, Millions, Cold Feet (TV), Waking Ned, Lucky Break, Welcome To Sarajevo, Jude, Hear My Song
- Hanna Stanbridge: Let Us Prey
- Ciaran McMenamin: Shooting For Socrates, Jump (2012), Red Tails, Primeval (TV)
- James Cosmo: Eliminators, Whiskey Galore (2016), Gunned Down, Tomorrow (2015), The Legend of Barney Thompson, We Still Kill The Old Way, The Christmas Candle, Citadel, Hammer of the Gods, Get Lucky, Game Of Thrones (TV), Half Light, The Chronicles Of Narnia – The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe, Troy, The Four Feathers (2002), Once Upon a Time In The Midlands, The Match, Babe 2 (voice), Emma (1996), Trainspotting, Braveheart, Stormy Monday, Highlander