Petronella has fallen in love. Unfortunately the boy she loves, Fergal is, along with his mother, being stalked by a murderous creature. At the same time Fergal’s mother, Mary is also being hunted by two men who want to enact revenge for something she did many years earlier. Who will get to Fergal & Mary first? The mysterious creature…or the two mystery men?
I’m baack! I think I’m trying to pick up all of the pieces I left laying around from when I got sick a few weeks ago. I do have a responsibility to my acolytes to keep them informed of what movies I’ve seen & whether or not they should waste their hard earned shekels to see them as well. But in all reality, their hard earned shekels should be coming to me, their liege…The Black Saint. Just send me all of your extra cash (no checks please) & you’ll all stay in my good graces. Remember, I will find you if you don’t capitulate…
But enough threats (promises) for now. Now I’m going to tell you about a film that I saw last month at the NYC Horror Fest. I got immediately ill after the show & stayed that way for awhile so I couldn’t get to it for awhile but now I can tell all of you about “Outcast”, a great new film from the U.K. that should be seen by a larger audience for sure. It turned heads at the NYC Film Festival & even won a “Best Actor” award for James Nesbitt, but more on that later.
“Outcast” tells the story of Petronella & Fergal, two teens slowly falling in love. Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge) lives in what I guess you & I would call the slums area of the U.K. The series of buildings she lives in are much like the projects that we have here in America. Beat down, filthy, covered in graffiti. You can almost feel the stench coming off of the buildings & apartments when you see them. Good production design for sure. She lives with her alcoholic mother & retarded brother, who she basically takes care of while her mother is drunk on the sofa.
Into their lives come Mary(Kate Dickie) & her son Fergal (Niall Bruton). They move into a filthy, dilapidated apartment in the same building that Petronella lives in. “This is the end of the line” Mary intones to her son as they torch the van they arrive in. When they move into the apartment, Mary waits for Fergal to sleep and then promptly removes her clothes & recites some Celtic chants as she draws symbols on the walls of the flat. She is obviously protecting Fergal from something, but what? And more importantly, why?
Well, she’s protecting them from two Irish men who are on a mission to kill Fergal for something that happened “A long time ago”. Their names are Liam & Cathal & Cathal has to go thru a ceremony to be given the powers he needs to kill Fergal. He is given these powers in what looks to be a very painful tatooing ceremony & is warned not to abuse these powers. Once he has accomplished his task, he will become something more than human, something supernatural. But first he has to kill Fergal & Fergal’s mother knows he is coming and is waiting…
Liam tags along with Cathal to “Mentor” him & show him how to use his new powers in the proper manner and they do have some funny scenes as Liam has to rein Cathal in a bit. They are hunting Fergal as if he’s an animal of some sort. But as far as we can see, Fergal is a pretty quiet kid. His mother doesn’t let him out much and when he does go out it’s always with an admonition from his mother. She is wildly over protective of him & disapproves of the relationship he’s developing with Petronella. But love is blind ain’t it? We all know Petronella & Fergal are gonna get together, but what does it mean to their relationship? And what are the consequences for both of them when Liam & Cathal show up looking for Fergal & Mary?
“Outcast” has a little bit of Â problem in that it doesn’t seem to know whether it’s a murder mystery, a supernatural thriller or a monster movie. It has elements of all three of them & it does manage to juggle them adequately at first but it does get a little daft in the middle of the movie. With spells being tossed about, murder in the streets & a monster creeping about the premises all going on at the same time. Throw in the love story between Petronella & Fergal on top of everything else & it can get a bit confusing, but never boring.
One of “Outcast’s” biggest problems are the strong Irish accents everyone has. Not that they distract from the film itself but they are sometimes very hard to understand…really hard to understand. But if you listen VERY carefully you shouldn’t have a problem. You’re f*cked if you’re not paying attention though because you’re going to miss a line of dialogue or something that will be very important later in the film. seriously. Director Colm McCarthy (who also wrote the script with his brother Alan) has concocted something very different here & yet it all seemed like we’ve seen it done before, Just not in the same movie. It took a lot of balls to make a blend of magic, murder, monsters & a love story and have it come together in a cohesive manner in the end. But shamrocks & shenanigans, this one does! Ultimately Cathal finds Mary & Fergal and then the final battle begins. Just as Mary predicted in the beginning of the film..”It all ends here”.
“Outcast” has one hell of a twist towards the end that really threw me for a loop. Of course I can’t say what it is (No spoilers) but it is a doozy & it killed the audience I saw it with. Nobody expected it. Don’t you just love that? When a movie can still surprise a jaded viewer like I am? I love it when that happens & I really loved it here because it really surprised me & everyone else there as well. Good stuff to be sure. It was also interesting to see a film with a creature in it nowadays. A CGI creation that’s pretty effective. We even get some transformation effects thrown in there as well. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a big screen monster movie & I was suitably impressed.
But that being said, the ending of the film was very predictable & I was a little disappointed with it. I knew how it was going to end 3/4 of the way through it despite the twist & that makes me angry. I hate predictable endings. And this film is so original & ferocious that when it ended I was a bit deflated because of all the different ways I thought it could’ve ended afterwards…but didn’t.
All of the performances are top notch though. Kate Dickie is a force of nature as Mary and her performance is Oscar worthy, really. James Nesbitt won the “Best Actor” award at the NYC film festival for good reason as well. His Cathal is an angry yet occasionally confused and ultimately misled character that you want to hate but ultimately you sort of feel sorry for in the end. And as the doomed couple of Petronella & Fergal, Hanna Stanbridge & Niall Bruton have a wonderful chemistry. Bruton has a sickly look to him & Stanbridge sort of takes on a motherly role to him at first. Both of their performances are fearless and I might add that Miss. Stanbridge is an absolute knockout & I couldn’t take my eyes off of her whenever she was on screen.
Should you see “Outcast”? Fuck yeah! Like I said it’s an interesting amalgam of four different types of stories that manages to keep them together & believable. It’s exciting, mysterious & scary to boot. Three 1/2 shrouds out of five for “Outcast”. I would’ve scored it higher but I did have problems with the accents at times & I hated the fact that I figured out the ending even after the big twist in the script. But it’s still a great movie well worth seeking out. Just sit back with a pint of Guiness & a plate of bangers & mash and enjoy the ride!