Outpost Movie Review

Written by Kat Albrecht

Released by Gravitas Ventures

Written and directed by Joe Lo Truglio
2022, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released on May 19th, 2023

Starring:
Beth Dover as Kate
Becky Ann Baker as Bertha
Ato Essandoh as Earl
Dylan Baker as Reggie
Dallas Roberts as Ranger Dan

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Review:

You know what seems like a good choice if you’re experiencing full-blown post-traumatic hallucinations? Taking a summer job alone, in the middle of the forest, in an observation tower and having no form of communication to the outside world. There’s no way that could possibly go wrong.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, this proves to be a terrible idea in writer/director Joe Lo Truglio’s psychological horror film Outpost. The Movie follows the journey of Kate (Beth Dover) who, following a traumatic attack, retreats to the peace of the forest for a stint in an observation tower spotting potential forest fires. The duration of the film focuses on Kate and her mental journey as she relives her trauma and comes to doubt her reality.

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Observation tower horror is a great concept, and it really works in Outpost – trapping a talented actor in a small space for the better part of an hour and a half proves a great way to juxtapose the sense of stress and captivity of Julie’s mental state with the wide-open expanses of the forest. The cinematography by Frank Barrera is really beautiful and serves to drive the plot forward. Particularly memorable are the visual treatments of ants and insects, which reoccur throughout the film in a sort of grotesque beauty.

Beth Dover (Kate) is excellent in a lead-heavy film and is particularly strong in the first half. Movies like this one can be really hit-or-miss as they try to slowly build themselves from sanity to insanity, and Dover’s performance sells it. Her charm and relatability inject lightness and hopefulness into the film when it needs it. Dylan Baker (Reggie) also gives a standout performance as Kate’s nearest neighbor, striking the right balance between gruff and sympathetic to add emotional depth and dimension to the narrative.

Even though the film predominantly focuses on Kate’s daily activities, Truglio shows us plenty of other places and people as well including other rangers, neighbors, and townspeople via flashbacks. This keeps it interesting and allows the pacing to escape the one-day-at-a-time methodical plodding some confinement films fall victim to.

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The ending doesn’t exactly go with the first ¾. The pacing, the gore factor, and the character perspectives all change dramatically and I didn’t quite buy it. Primarily this is because the film previously spends a long time going from 0 to 5, 10, 15, 20 and then very suddenly (and intentionally) turns the dial up to 100. This dynamic change will be very obvious to the audience, but I suspect most viewers won’t care since the ending is quite entertaining even if tonally different.

Overall, Outpost shines brightest in the quiet moments where the camera drinks in the simplicity of Kate’s routines and shatters it with metaphorical representations of her trauma. I highly recommend it for the evenings when you want to linger on a film and really listen to what it has to say. And I’ll tell you one thing – I won’t be climbing any observation towers any time soon.

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Grades:

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Kat Albrecht
Staff Reviewer
Kat Albrecht is a legally trained sociologist and computational social scientist studying how complex data can inform policy, with particular emphasis on the nexus of fear, criminal data, and the law. In other words, she’s a college professor who studies horror films sometimes. Her research specialties are practical special effects, creature features, and arguing about the meaning of genre. Kat will gleefully review any film that takes place in the ocean or in outer space and exclusively paints portraits of herself.
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