OCTOBER 9, 2010
Someone compared the film We Are What We Are to Let The Right One In, but I think Outcast is an even closer “cousin”, as it shares the tone (as We Are... did) but also plot similarities, in that it’s about the romance between two lonely kids living in a crappy apartment building, despite the fact that one of them is a monster. Oddly, had I opted for Outcast (on the Discovery screen) at Frightfest, instead of the quiz, I would have seen the two films back to back for an even better vantage to compare.
Anyway, it’s a bit slow but it’s a unique-ish take on the doomed romance horror movie. For starters, the Van Helsing type who is tracking the monster/kid down is actually his father. Furthermore, he uses Celtic magic to track, with spells that can let blood drops point the way to his target, magic tattoos giving him strength, etc. Not the usual pissed off badass, in other words. Also, the mother is no prize either, so when the two begin to fight, you’re not really sure which one to root for. Oh, and she uses magic too, though it doesn’t seem as effective – there’s a scene where she activates these things on the wall that I thought were to take away his powers, but he’s still pretty strong, and apart from some increased yelling, it doesn’t seem to affect him at all.
Another thing I liked was how sparingly the used the monster. It could have almost been a mystery, with us not knowing who it was, but instead they tell more or less tell you and then you have to wait for most of the movie to see it fully. Thus, there aren’t a lot of kills in the movie, but there IS a lot of time spent developing all of the characters, making the final reel, with everyone coming together in a tragic way, a bit more resonant than these sort of things usually manage.
There is one character sort of left out of the climax though – the heartless mother of the kid’s girlfriend. Her other child is mentally disabled, and basically neglects him (the girlfriend is the one taking care of him), and I was hoping to see her get killed, quite frankly. Dogs and handicapped folks are my Achilles heel in movies – anyone who mistreats either (and this movie comes to close to doing both!) deserves a horrible death (if it’s that type of movie), as far as I’m concerned. But after her son is accused of a murder (not sure if I just missed something or they intentionally left it vague, but does he kill the bully, or the monster?), she is taken away by the police in hysterics and never seen again.
I was distracted by the names: Fergal, Petronella, Cathal, Jitta... are these common in Ireland? When a “Liam” popped up I actually cheered a little. Speaking of my American ignorance, some of the accents are bit hard to penetrate, leaving some of the earlier scenes, before I had a good grasp on the story, a bit hard to follow. Since I highly doubt this will see any sort of significant theatrical release in the US, I would advise the use of the (hopefully included) subtitles.
So if you dug Let The Right One In, you should find much to enjoy here. It’s not as good, obviously, but it’s an effective slow-burner with a unique magic flavor (far more effectively used than Warlock, at any rate) and some good performances (James Nesbitt as Cathal (the “Van Helsing”) in particular is terrific) to enjoy as well. Oh, and a creepy mother-son relationship that borders on Norman Bates ickiness at times. Good stuff.
What say you?