It’s not often that I see a film, particularly a horror film, which is lit so well as Steve Barker’s OUTPOST. Stunning greys and shadows are used to great effect, bleaching out the brighter colours and leaving behind a bleak and atmospheric work of art. This stylish cinematography isn’t wasted on a bad film, either, and I’m already looking forward to the sequel.
Somewhere in war torn Eastern Europe, a group of hardened mercenaries, led by DC (Ray Stevenson) agree to do a job for an engineer named Hunt (Julian Wadham). The job description is sketchy, to say the least, but it involves facilitating the safe inspection of a ‘property’. The ‘property’ in this case is an old Nazi Bunker. Which we later learn was used for all manner of macabre experiments. As the macho group of soldiers explore the bunker, not yet knowing what they’re looking for, they discover a pile of fresh bodies, one of them is still alive, though in a catatonic state.
Later, gunshots erupt from the woodland surrounding the bunker; they return the fire, and feeling certain they must have done some damage, go to investigate; however, their recon mission reveals not one wounded man. It is now apparent that this is no ordinary enemy. In fact they are under attack from Nazis; I’ve heard these Nazis described as ‘zombies’, but they are not Zombies. Whatever they are, they can shift through space and time, and these ominous looking men with their grey faces and sinister uniforms, springing up when they least expect them are enough to scare the bejesus out of DC’s men.
I won’t give away the plot, but suffice it to say that most of the scares in Outpost come from the lighting and shadow effects: there’s nothing there; then suddenly – he’s behind you! It’s a shame that later in the film the shifting through space and time is abandoned in exchange for plain old walking, because it is the speed at which the Nazis come and go that makes them frightening. Gore fans will probably find this film a bit tame, though there are a few cringe worthy moments. There’s some shoot ‘em up action and the claustrophobic setting of the old bunker coupled with the bleak, eerie lighting sets us up perfectly for some good jump-scares.
DC and his sidekick, redneck buddy Prior (Richard Brake) have the most character; the rest of the men are more easily distinguishable by their array of strong accents than their diverse characters.
The Nazis look really threatening with their dull gray faces, and of course, that Nazi uniform doesn’t hurt! Shame about the lead Nazi, who for some reason looks like he’s scribbled on his face with a biro – well, this isn’t a high budget film, and as the rest of it is a visual delight, I’m prepared to overlook it.
Outpost 2 is currently in production.
OUTPOST (2009). Director: Steve Barker. Writer: Kieran Parker, Steve Barker, Rae Brunton. Cast: Ray Stephenson, Julian Wadham, Richard Brake, Paul Blair, Brett Fancy, Enoch Frost.