Real Movie News DVD ReviewOutpost (2007) DVD review
written by: Anthony Berk
Set in war-torn Eastern Europe, a band of battle-worn mercenaries undertake a dangerous mission into a no-man’s land at the behest of a mysterious businessman. When they locate and secure a disused military bunker, they also discover a terrifying secret that has laid buried for half a century-and which they’ll have to fight to survive.
Outpost (2007) DVD Review:
Hollywood films seem to follow a recognizable pattern. Once one type of film makes a splash and rakes in a lot of cash, every film that follows in the same genre bears a striking resemblance to it. This can especially be said of the horror genre. At the beginning of the decade, The Ring started a trend of Hollywood remakes of Japanese supernatural films such as The Grudge and Dark Water. After that wave of remakes subsided, the “torture porn” horror film craze launched with the release of Saw, and everyone welcomed the change in pace. It’s been four years since that film’s release and we’re still in the thick of it, once again begging for a change. Every once in awhile something different slips through the cracks in Hollywood, such as the recent 30 Days of Night, but more consistently one can find solace in the independent horror film circuit.
Outpost, the film in question for this review, is just the sort of change I’m talking about. It’s a good old fashioned, claustrophobic horror film, and a pretty good one at that. It tells the story of a group of disgruntled ex-marines who are freelancing for a mysterious client. The client pays them to escort him to an abandoned bunker in the middle of the forest, where Nazi’s performed all sorts of experiments in the occult during World War II. The soldiers soon find out that the results of those experiments might still be lingering in the bunker after all those years in the form of homicidal Nazi specters.
The premise may not be the most original one ever conceived (the story is quite similar to a werewolf vs. soldier movie called Dog Soldiers), but director Steve Barker tells the story with class, taking cues from such genre maestros as John Carpenter and Ridley Scott (is any classy horror film NOT in some way inspired by Alien?). Barker creates a constant feeling of suspense by keeping to the shadows and only showing brief glimpses of the Nazi ghosts that inhabit the desolate bunker. Although the film is shot in a 2.35:1 (Cinemascope) aspect ratio, Barker covers a large part of the widescreen frame in darkness, allowing our minds to fill in the gaps. Like Spielberg did in Jaws, Barker wisely lets the viewer’s imagination do the work for the first half of the movie.
Unfortunately, unlike the shark in Jaws, once the Nazi ghosts are finally brought out into the open they’re actually not as scary as one would hope. It turns out that the idea of phantom Nazi soldiers is a lot more frightening than the real thing (save for the Nazi General, who is effectively creepy). Furthermore, the supernatural mythology that the film sets up is somewhat muddled. It never really becomes clear exactly what the Nazi soldiers are. Are they ghosts? Are they zombies? A little bit of both perhaps? It’s clearly established in the exposition that they have the power to appear and vanish at will. Indeed, the entire first half of the movie rides on that fact, as we catch little glimpses of them in the shadows, only to have them disappear a second later. However, in the climactic siege at the end of the film, all that the Nazis do is lumber about like zombies while the protagonist soldiers shoot at them nonstop. This makes the nature of the villains seem contrived to fit whatever works best for the film at any given time, rather than following a strict set of rules. The film is still suspenseful and entertaining, it’s just a shame the film couldn’t follow its own mythos.
The only extra on the DVD is a series of deleted scenes that were wisely cut from the finished film. Most of them are extraneous subplots that only take away from the forward momentum. Subplots may be important in some situations, but in a film like this, it’s all about pressing forward to keep up the suspense.
Outpost may not be without structural flaws, but it’s a well-executed suspense-driven horror film. Horror films don’t trust the viewer’s imagination nearly as much as they used to, so it’s a relief to once again see one that relies on shadows and atmosphere more than blood and guts to get the audience riled up. Outpost may not have the most satisfying conclusion, but it’s one of those films that is more about the journey than the actual destination.
Outpost (2007) DVD review written by: Anthony Berk