DVD town review
link: http://www.dvdtown.com/reviews/outpost/5733Clocking in at just under a tight ninety minutes, “Outpost” is a compact horror flick by director Steven Barker that doesn’t mess around with unnecessary fluff. The only beating-around-the-bush is done by the group of soldiers trudging through the Eastern European wilderness in one of the countries where war still rages on today.
The movie gets right down to business as a man named Hunt (Julian Wadham) sits in a seedy tavern in negotiations with a soldier-of-fortune known as DC (played by Ray Stevenson of HBO’s “Rome”). At this offbeat business meeting, Hunt is looking to hire DC and his platoon to safely escort him through the danger zone out into the middle of nowhere on some kind of mysterious but supposedly simple mission.
Soon afterwards, we meet the other six mercenaries, and along with Hunt, they head off through the dense forest to complete their new commission while trying to stay out of enemy cross fire. The actors playing the mercenaries were well chosen, looking like they really were hardened soldiers that have seen a lot of death and destruction in their lives. I was half expecting the commonly overused muscle-bound wrestlers with a tough chick thrown in for good measure, but there was none of that going on here. One of them was a sadistic redneck, however, tossed in to sprinkle a little gasoline on things internally as his personality clashed with some of his unit; but, hey, a lot of these guys’ experiences turn them into complete psychopaths.
The men arrive at a seemingly abandoned underground bunker, which is the place Hunt was headed for and where the rest of the movie takes place. While they are scoping out the joint, gunfire erupts from somewhere beyond the trees, forcing them to take cover inside. The catacombs are dark and creepy and add a layer of claustrophobic suspense on their own. This is where we also learn that the bunker goes all the way back to the time of World War II, belonging to the Nazi regime as swastikas and an old Nazi training film with a projector still remain behind.
There aren’t many special effects in the movie, and what few we have are done well, but I must say I had a hard time swallowing the old Nazi training film. There’s no doubt it was intentionally made to look like it was over fifty years old, having severe degradation and being black-and-white, but it also incorporated animation that just didn’t look like it belonged in that time period. It might just have been me, but I felt that it had an anime style to it that could have used more research.
The mercenaries decide to split up into teams to investigate and secure the bunker, and when they do, you don’t feel like they are just setting themselves up to be slaughtered like the curious, unsuspecting teens in a slasher movie. These mercenaries are the real deal, and the way they handle themselves show they have plenty of experience and know precisely what they’re doing.
During the sweep of the interior, one of the mercenaries stumbles upon a pile of fresh bodies tucked away in a room, one of which is so fresh that it’s still moving. DC and his crew pull out the spaced-out survivor and try to question him, but they fail to get much out of him. All the bald, pale man does is blankly stare into nothingness, obviously some kind of sign that something pretty major traumatized him.
It’s also right about this point where haunting things start happening inside the bunker that nobody can explain. The men hear strange sounds, and shadows have more to them than meets the eye, putting everyone on high alert. The bunker did have a generator for backup power that Hunt eventually tracks down and manages to turn on, but even so, it is still a spooky place that I wouldn’t personally hang around in too long.Hunt continues searching for what he’s looking for, and as you’d expect, he has ulterior motives that come into play when the story arc gets interesting. I’m going to hold off spending any time detailing his plans or the whole underlying purpose of his involvement, though, as it is an integral part of the story and the backbone for the main twist of the film.
I liked the movie, its playing out almost like an installment of “Masters of Horror,” only much better and without the usual cheese. There aren’t any hokey computer-generated effects, and I would have never guessed the real plot from reading the brief synopsis on the back, so it was a nice change of pace. That doesn’t mean that the film is perfect, since I did feel that it could have had a bit more meat in the middle, but I still like that it was short, sweet, and to the point.
The Final Cut:
In the tradition of “Predator” and “Alien,” “Outpost” begins as an action adventure, drifts into horror, and finally plants itself firmly in the realm of supernatural sci-fi. Granted, the end product comes nowhere near the caliber of the classic films I mentioned, but “Outpost” is an above-average form of entertainment just the same.