to make of Outcast? Here we seem to have a
film that is full of interesting ideas, but which seems bogged
down with the kitchen-sink, council estate Coronation
Street mentality that has been the curse of British
cinema for years. The end result is a movie that has as many
off-putting moments as impressive ones.
Celtic mythology with grim urban reality, the film follows Mary
(Kate Dickie) and her son Fergal (Niall Bruton), who have escaped
Ireland and are hiding out in a dingy flat in an equally dingy
Edinburgh council estate. Mary paints magical symbols on the
walls and is, we're told, a witch, while Fergal seems withdrawn
and silent. Despite this - and in one of the moments where suspension
of disbelief becomes hard - neighbour Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge)
takes a fancy to him, and is soon persuing a relationship, despite
him having no discernable personality whatsoever (admittedly,
the other locals are a cliched mob of chavs, so competition
probably wasn't that strong).
the pair are being hunted by Cathal ((James Nesbitt), who we
first see being tattooed with assorted runes, and who seems
to have been brought in to track 'the beast'. What beast? This'll
be the long-clawed monster we see snatching locals and gutting
them. There would seem to be an attempt to make the true identity
of this demon a mystery, but frankly, there's no way you won't
guess it right away.
certainly has a moody feel to it - dark, subdued and grim, the
film conjures up a powerful atmosphere during the 'scary' scenes.
But director and co-writer Colm McCarthy seems too wedded to
his TV past, and the film also has the depressing feel of a
Ken Loach film - this is not a good thing. It feels
like British cinema by numbers. It'd be nice if filmmakers could
find a middle-ground between Shane Meadows and Richard Curtis
when it came to characters - and it might actually reflect the
'reality' so many of them are keen on more accurately.
are some impressive moments, admittedly - Nesbitt carving off
a chunk of his own flesh for use in a ritual, some brutal spots
of violence, and some intriguing snippets of mythology. Nesbitt
is fairly impressive as the fanatical and ruthless 'witchhunter',
while Dickie is convincing as the fairly unsympathetic 'witch'.
Hanna Stanbridge makes for an appealing heroine and Ciarán
McMenamin, as Cathal's assistant / minder is effective too.
However, Bruton fails to register any personality at all, and
as the film is essentially centred around him, this is a real
problem. Dr Who fans might be thrilled to hear
that Karen Gillan makes an appearance, though don't get excited
- she plays a none-too-appealing local skank and is killed after
a few minutes on screen.
the film keeps it's biggest blunder for the end, with a dreadful
transformation scene and a really, really ropey monster that
is more likely to induce laughter than screams. It's a pity
because, despite its faults, the film had just about started
to come together at this point. Oh well.
certainly isn't awful. But it is unfocused and unclear about
just what it wants to be - occult mystery, monster movie or
socio-realism. In the end, it's caught somewhere between all
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