Outcast on DVD

Monday, 17 January 2011 08:53

What do you get if you cross Supernatural, Being Human and the films of Shane Meadows? British horror movie “Outcast” is the answer, the debut feature from director Colm McCarthy (Spooks, Murphy’s Law). Brothers Cathal (James Nesbitt - The Deep, Jekyll) and Liam (Ciarán McMenamin – Primeval) are on the hunt for Fergal (Niall Burton), a boy with a deadly secret. He just wants to blend in and lead a normal life.

Fergal and his protective mother, Mary (Kate Dickie – The Pillars of the Earth) stop running and settle into a grotty high-rise apartment in Edinburgh. Mary happens to be a witch, and she uses her occult powers to put protection runes on the walls to ward off unwelcome attention. Fergal quickly makes friends with sexy neighbour Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge – Lip Service), but risks exposing his location and his true nature.

Outcast comes to DVDAs the cover of the DVD gives Fergal’s secret away, it is no big spoiler to reveal that he is able to transform into some kind of feral werewolf creature. It is not long before people on their grimy estate start disappearing, though Fergal is not the only perpetrator of violence. The area is run-down and poverty-stricken, and gangs of unpleasant youths wander the streets with nothing better to do than get drunk, pick fights and set fire to things.

This setting blesses the movie with a healthy dollop of gloomy, nervy atmosphere; walk anywhere unaccompanied at night and you are as likely to be bashed over the head by a snarling yob as you are torn to shreds by the creature. The brooding music and James Nesbitt’s perma-scowl help to seal the deal!

Whilst the horror element sadly lacks a killer edge and consequently is not particularly frightening, the drama of Fergal’s relationships with his cold but well-meaning mother (think Sarah Connor) and the warm-blooded Petronella adds some much-needed substance to the film. Despite his curse, you genuinely care for Fergal and are torn between hoping on the one hand that the hunters catch up with him and put an end to his slaughter, and on the other wishing that he is somehow able to overcome his supernatural predicament and finally get on with his life.

It might not be very scary, but this gritty movie does feature some gruesome occult rituals involving creatures, and the gore is always delivered with a delightful splatter. The director sensibly keeps Fergal’s alter ego in the shadows for the first hour, preferring to go for an “Alien”-esque slow reveal. That is not to say that the full creature makeup is shoddy, though – it is actually pretty impressive, helped by being immersed in gallons of slime.

The cast (that also includes a certain Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame) play it deadly serious, so do not expect laughs in between the screams. This is a dark drama with jet-black horror. It is a very credible first feature for McCarthy, and certainly puts his name on the map. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

The bare-bones disc features a trailer but that is as far as it goes for special features, unfortunately.

“Outcast” (2010) is out now, courtesy of Momentum Pictures. The DVD’s running time is 94 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £12.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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