I feel almost like I’m crossing a picket line when I write a negative review of a first-time film by an independent British director. The industry needs all the support it can get and Outpost, to be fair, is by no means its nadir. It’s technically decent enough considering its budget and I’m sure that the cast and crew had the best intentions. I just genuinely wish I had anything good at all to say about it. In fact, it bored me to the point where I’m wishing I had anything to say about it at all, good or otherwise!
The whole “soldiers finding a mysterious bunker in the middle of nowhere” motif has been done and double done. Although this particular bunker is located in modern Eastern Europe it doesn’t stop the bunker from being an old nazi one and it doesn’t stop the resident ghosts being old nazi ones either (if you’ve seen Shockwaves, you’ll be able to imagine what they look like). Sadly, the sprinkling of vaguely interesting ideas that are sandwiched between these familiar setups get drowned beneath the wealth of cliché sauce.
Even the opening thirty minutes – during which the viewer should be grabbed – are a tremendous chore to sit through. We’re thrown straight into the action without knowing or caring who the main characters are; all we know is that they’re mercenaries who’ve been hired to escort a man to the aforementioned bunker. It’s therefore difficult not to fall asleep through the endless footage (that kicks off five minutes into the film) of them wandering about in the dark and being falsely scared by any number of not-so-loud noises (not such hardcore mercs now are you, lads?). Eventually, they stop meandering and at that point the film lapses into the generic slasher formula. The men get picked off one by one, as the survivors try to figure out what it is that’s killing them.
The film looks exactly as you’d expect if you’d seen Deathwatch or The Bunker. It’s washed out, almost monochrome for the most part and woefully standard issue. All the grime and gloom that’s clearly meant to create an atmosphere just makes it look like any number of the current post-Saw/Hostel movies. This style works massively against it, creating a feeling of flaccid familiarity where it should be generating tension or terror.
Sigh. I really wish Outpost were bad enough to work myself into a proper flying rage over but the worst thing of all is that it’s just so painfully average. Nothing here made me want to throttle the participants. I just wanted to curl up in a corner and go to sleep because I was so bored by its drab workmanlike competence and the fact that it showed me nothing I hadn’t seen a hundred times before in equally generic films. It’s not even ripping off anything exciting or original; it’s just recycling what’s already been recycled.
As I said, beating up on the underdog is a cruel and pointless sport, but if all they’re going to offer to the world is yet more cookie-cutter spook’n’slash stuff like this, then fuck ’em. This mediocrity needs to stop. It’s just cluttering up the shelves and ever cheapening the value of direct-to-DVD product.