Review: Outpost Offers an Uneven But Still Thrilling Journey into a Woman’s Post-Abuse Paranoia
This uneven but still highly watchable little thriller comes courtesy of comic actor-turned-writer/director Joe Lo Truglio (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who tells the story of a woman escaping her life after her abusive ex violently assaults her. In Outpost, Beth Dover plays Kate, who contacts her best friend (Ta’Rea Campbell) and asks her to reach out to her estranged brother (Ato Essandoh), who happens to head a team of Idaho rangers. Looking to get as far off the radar as possible and give herself a chance to heal both physically and mentally, Kate is given the job of fire lookout in the mountains of the northern part of the state, where she must take up residence in a lookout outpost tower, only coming down for bathroom breaks and supplies.
Beth thinks all she needs is time and isolation, but her severe PTSD has other ideas, as she begins to see and hear things behind every rock and tree, and she becomes convinced that it’s only a matter of time before her ex (Tim Neff) shows up to finish the job. The few people she does have contact with include another ranger (Dallas Roberts) who is put in charge of making sure Kate doesn’t screw things up after she files a false report of a fire for reasons tied to her PTSD; Reggie (Dylan Baker), the closest resident to the tower who reluctantly becomes Kate’s friend; and Bertha (Becky Ann Baker), a hiker who comes through just when Kate needs someone to listen to her paranoid thoughts about her ex and a few other people she doesn’t trust.
Lo Truglio and his real-life partner Dover do a convincing job selling Kate’s alarming descent into a dangerous victim of her very understandable fear. I wish we knew a bit more about Kate’s story outside of being an abuse survivor, to give us some sense of what about her personality was lost to this monster and how much she’s changed in the months since the attack. We’re just meant to accept her friendship with Campbell, but we’re never allowed to see them in any way outside of this favor. Even when Campbell shows up to pay her friend a surprise visit, we have no way of knowing the shock her friend feels at seeing this new version of Kate.
Still, Dover gives a helluva performance, and while I don’t want to give too much away about where Outpost takes us, the film is a genuine portrait of a woman on the verge who wants to be able to distinguish between reality and whatever fear generates within, with one side of that equation clearly winning. The filmmaker doesn’t spare us the gore when necessary (again, some of which is imagined and some repressed), and when the full truth about Kate’s situation is revealed, it may not be entirely shocking but it’s still something of a surprise. It’s a solid first effort from Lo Truglio, and I’m curious to see if he continues down this horror path or if he has other genre avenues to explore.
The film is now playing in theaters and available via VOD.
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