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  Outcast Curses!
Year: 2010
Director: Colm McCarthy
Stars: James Nesbitt, Kate Dickie, Ciarán McMenamin, Niall Bruton, Hanna Stanbridge, Andrew Martin, Daniel Porter, Christine Tremarco, Karen Gillan, Claire Catterson, Sean McCarthy, Therese Bradley, Josh Whitelaw, Ian Whyte
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cathal (James Nesbitt) arrives at this travellers' camp in Ireland with a mission to accept, and as such is willing to subject himself to an exacting ritual to accomplish it, or at least set him on the correct path. One painful tattoo across his back later, and they think he is ready, so they team him up with Liam (Ciarán McMenamin) and he tells him that their next stop is Bonnie Scotland. Just one piece of advice is offered: kill nobody but the boy, as anyone else will have unfortunate repercussions. But who is the boy? He's Fergal (Niall Bruton), and he's on the run with his witch mother Mary (Kate Dickie)...

Sort of a cross between The Wolf Man and one of those rub your nose in the grime of life kitchen sink dramas, Outcast probably most resembled a production for Scottish television from the eighties, where an angle on that kind of slice of miserable life story would have been found in a go at making something novel out of what had been the bread and butter of the drama department for the previous decade. Its director and co-writer Tom McCarthy had worked extensively in television, and he brought that no-nonsense sensibility to what was actually quite a bit of nonsense, though how seriously you took it was very much up to you.

It certainly kept you watching, but largely to see if the well-telegraphed ending would indeed be the way things ended up; setting a werewolf tale in an Edinburgh housing estate was not such a bad idea if the aim was to pour new wine into old bottles, but it didn't half make this predictable. To counter this, the script tried to make the details of what was happening as murky as possible without obscuring the story completely, and McCarthy did his best to live up to that in his imagery. With a cast no strangers to this kind of urban grit in a fair few of their past projects, they at least were able to rustle up an authenticity to what sailed too close to cliché, as if the writers had either seen too many horror movies or not enough.

Meaning, if you were a fan of the genre, you'd either see where this was heading or wish they'd come up with something less conventional under that stark surface. Fergal is only allowed to go out when his mother orders him to walk the dog, but nevertheless he does meet Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge) who immediately takes a shine to him; Fergal can't believe his luck, but Mary sees that luck as all bad. Meanwhile, she is casting spells to ensure that Cathal and Liam don't manage to track them down, but as expected, a confrontation is on the way. Complications include Petronella's mentally disabled brother who she looks after thanks to an alcoholic mother, but the film could have just as easily operated without these aspects.

Of course, the publicity for Outcast must have been delighted when one of its cast went on to be one of the most famous women in Britain at the time, for lurking in the supporting cast was Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillan. However, if her fans were hoping for a lengthy supporting role for her, they were to be disappointed for she disappears from the action about twenty minutes in, and her name didn't even grace the opening credits thanks to her fame arriving after the film had been completed - and after the end credits had been completed too, apparently, as her name was mispelled there. Mind you, just like her predecessor Billie Piper in her horror movie Spirit Trap, we did get to hear Karen swear a bit. Once she is out of the film, you can concentrate on everyone else, but the problem with your basic werewolf effort was that it was difficult to come up with a fresh approach, and while Outcast managed it in the style department, everywhere else it was business as usual. Music by Giles Packham.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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