Skimming a little off the top of Dog Soldiers, Outpost is a solid little supernatural horror with plenty of piss-your-pants scares, a genuinely creepy threat in the form of some re-animated Nazi super soldiers and lots of great acting.
To boil it all down, Outpost is about a group of top mercenaries from all over the World who are sent on a mission in Eastern Europe, mid-war. They arrive at their destination, an old Nazi bunker, and find themselves confronted by something far more menacing than anything they could possibly have imagined.
Filled with a cast of, largely, Brits who’ve paid their dues on the UK TV circuit, the men that make up the team of mercenaries are a mostly credible bunch, lead by the charismatic Ray Stevenson. Amongst them are faces that you’ll no doubt be familiar with (Spaced fans might get a particular kick from seeing ‘Tyres’ in a very, very different role) and despite being hardened killers, you may well still find yourself rooting for them, which is testament to both the characterisation and the acting skills on display.
While there are plot holes and staggering inaccuracies galore, Outpost offers up much of entertainment value if you switch your brain firmly to its ‘suspend disbelief’ setting. The antagonists themselves, essentially a sort of Nazi zombie/ghost hybrid, are chillingly portrayed and are very much the stuff of nightmares. Until the second half of the movie, they are also, thankfully, little seen and this works wonderfully in creating an air of palpable tension and keeping them shrouded in mystery until the reveal. When the threat is unknown, there is much more to fear and the makers seemed to realise this and certainly don’t blow their load too early.
The lighting and use of sound is one of the films major strengths. While it might be a little far fetched to expect the viewer to believe that even modern day, war-torn Europe might look as grimy and dilapidated as it does here, the atmosphere it helps to create is one of serious unease. The washed-out, low saturation photography that Outpost has might be an over-used technique these days but it never distracts and in the context, seems almost essential to the overall look and feel of the movie.
Outpost’s downfall comes in the form of what turns out to be one of its major plot points. The explanation for the soldier’s re-animation and its subsequent sub-plot requires the audience to stretch their bullshit tolerance to the limit. It’s poorly executed, particularly in the final act but is also, sadly, fundamental to the story. While the ending doesn’t truly suffer from this far-fetched madness, it hampers an otherwise terrifying story of a supposedly undefeatable foe.
Outpost steers clear of obvious clichés and with the exception of one or two of the performances and plot devices, is a well-made horror with a splash of subtle dark humour, some excellent gore and a wonderfully atmospheric feel. While it’s a completely different animal to its stable-mate Dog Soldiers, comparisons are inevitable and in that respect it doesn’t quite measure up. That’s not to say that it isn’t worthy of your time though, it is. Disengage your brain and discover another reason to hate the Fuhrer.