You’d think that a horror film that takes a good hour before anything actually happens would have something truly great up its sleeve to surprise us at the moment we think there's no hope of recovery. Well, even though Outpost does kick it up a notch as far as eventfulness is concerned in the last half hour, it’s just not anywhere near good enough to justify us sitting through its long, event-less first section.
Without giving too much away, Outpost is about a group of hired mercenaries who discover a horrific secret hidden since World War II in an abandoned Nazi bunker.
Outpost is the type of horror film that looks great from the trailers, which is down to clever marketing and not the film itself, and ends up being a huge disappointment. Even with the knowledge that this was director Steve Barker and writer Rae Brunton's first feature film and that it was done on a shoestring budget, it still isn’t good enough to merit some slack because of those reasons. The whole thing resembles its creators — it just feels so amateurish. There is an admirably original basic horror storyline but it’s played out in a very unsatisfying fashion along with weak characters, some really bad acting, and it’s just not anywhere near as scary as it should be. It has some nice horror moments, most notably when the lights are off and things are going bump in the night, but it’s completely made out to be a whole other world of scary than it actually is.
As mentioned, there is almost an entire hour early on in the film where virtually nothing happens, nothing much resembling horror anyway. It attempts to build up tension, with a misjudged tone that makes it seem like an action movie rather than a horror, towards the horrible secret that is seemingly going to be revealed and then the scares can start. Except when the secret is “revealed” it isn’t really – they kind of allude to a storyline involving the Nazis and what they were up to in the bunker 60-odd years earlier but it never goes to any length to explain it. We're just meant to accept all of the events without demanding explanation and I’m sorry, but that just didn’t fly with me. I’m not someone who needs everything laid out right in front of my face for me to feel content that I understand every little thing but there has to be some explanation or it’s just going to be irritating and Outpost was most definitely that.
It becomes abundantly clear that the first hour, once we get to the “terrible hidden secret”, could have easily been tidied together into a neat 20-minute chunk. It resembles what the film is like as whole – just not worth it. The ending is abrupt and extremely disappointing and utterly not worth the overly long wait to get there. It’s very clear that the writer and director aren’t interested in developing these characters beyond stereotypes and as a result we just don’t care who lives or who dies. Soldier A could have been killed instead of Soldier B and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the viewer. Even the killing and accompanying gory scenes are cut away from right before we see it happen, which becomes infuriating once you realize it’s happening constantly.
Along with its original basic storyline and some creepy and atmospheric moments (notice I said ‘moments’ and not whole scenes) there’s also a small detail which I found to be impressive. There’s a fair bit of gunfire in the movie and the sound effects of the bullets firing was fittingly loud and, as far as I could tell anyway, realistic. It’s little things like this that hold it back from being terrible.
I can’t even recommend Outpost to the film fans to whom it's aimed. There's too little horror to satisfy genre fans, and for anyone else there’s little else to commend it for. This is a strong example of a film looking a hell of a lot better than it actually is.