“See, the bright light... it ain't heaven, son. It's just a muzzle flare.”
Ok, let me get this clear from the start. Outpost is not a zombie movie. There are no zombies in this movie. From director/writer Steve Barker’s own lips: “Everyone calls it a zombie movie even though they aren’t really zombies”. Ok? Got that?
What Outpost is is a truly fresh supernatural action thriller with a touch of science fiction for good measure.
A group of mercenaries are hired as protection for someone who claims to be going on a geological study of an unspecified but presumably hostile Eastern European country. When they arrive at their destination, however, they soon find that the man who hired them is actually interested in what seems to be an abandoned Nazi bunker. Behind a sealed door in the bunker they discover a pile of naked corpses, and one survivor – the Breather. The mercs guarding the entrance are attacked by an unknown force, and the mission soon descends into a fight for survival as they are besieged by the force from the outside, and haunted by the horrors within the bunker.
The story is well written and interesting, and manages to avoid falling into obvious clichés; however it suffers from slow pacing through a lot of the movie until things really start to kick off. The first really spine-chilling moment doesn’t occur until halfway through the movie – the first sighting of the external threat. The characters are obviously well thought out and unique, with each one having their own personality, right down to little touches like the Irish merc wearing a Two Para uniform but having IRA tattoos.
The fact that the movie has been made at all is another testament to the determination of independent filmmakers; the couple behind the movie remortgaged their house in order to raise the money needed. The fact that it looks so darn good is just out and out impressive, especially considering it went from conception to production in under a year. The use of Super 35mm process really shows, the image is crisp and the shadows have depth, and the wide 2.35 ratio means there is plenty of space for shadows around the action.
Outpost is not without its faults though, one thing that stands out is the style and quality of the animation that is shown as part of the training video does not fit at all with the time it is supposed to have come from, and I’m fairly sure the Nazis wouldn’t have portrayed themselves as looking sinister and evil.
The commentary on the DVD is excellent, very interesting and informative. Considering this is the first commentary any of the participants have done that’s an impressive achievement, since I can name a number of directors who do terrible commentaries no matter how many times they try! My one gripe is that the commentary track is terribly mixes, with the movie sounds being far too loud and not fading in and out as the commentary pauses and continues.
The deleted scenes included on the DVD are mostly uninteresting, and you can see well why they were cut. The optional commentary on the scenes makes it more interesting though. One scene that is interesting is the alternate ending that was thankfully ditched for the ending that is on the theatrical release.
While the extras are good, I can’t help feeling that we’ve missed out on a lot. Especially after looking on the official website (http://outpostthemovie.com/) and finding a whole host of gallery images, a production notes document, more videos, and even storyboards. If only these had been included on the DVD it could have rated much higher on this side of things.
Overall Outpost is a spine-chilling supernatural thriller that looks lovely and benefits from a great script. A great entry into the independent UK movie market, it is absolutely worth a watch. For those of you who are worried that the sequel will ruin the impact of the ending of this movie, rest assured: it’s a prequel.