Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Outcast - Filmhouse - 17/1/11

"The most original horror since "Let the Right One In" screams the poster for "Outcast"...trust me, that is further away from the truth than my declaring myself the best looking man in Scotland.  That is to say...pretty bloody far away from the truth.  I'm not even the best looking man in my flat and I live alone.

Lurking within Colm McCarthys script lies a really novel and interesting gothic horror tale.

All the right parts are present; black magic, ritual, gypsy traveller folk, legend, myth, an unGodly beast, urban backdrop...yet despite all of that "Outcast" never really delivers or convinces.  In part this is to do with the writing, McCarthy appears to think that in order for his Edinburgh setting to be convincing that all of the Scottish characters should end every sentence with "like" or "ken".  The cast appear to be aware of the limitations of the script because at times they appear genuinely uncomfortable in delivering them...James Cosmo in particular seems to know that, at best, the dialect is poorly researched and, at worst, is patronising and a bit daft.

Sadly some of the acting isn't good enough either...I'm well aware that that is an easy thing for someone like me to say, sitting here behind a keyboard without ever having appeared on screen but I don't think I would be alone in thinking that, at times, some of the performances were not much beyond am-dram level.  In particular Hanna Stanbridge is, at times, uncomfortably awful in her attempt at portraying the sort of school of hard knocks girl that Katie Jarvis played so brilliantly in "Fish Tank".  If Stanbridge was the best of those who turned up at the auditions then the state of acting in Scotland is in a perilous condition.

As a counter to the near balsa like performance of Stanbridge was the ever brilliant Kate Dickie who was, again, perfection.  Even during scenes that would have been ludicrous in the hands of lesser talents are played brilliantly by Dickie.  Proof of this comes during a scene when Dickie has to battle through the ether against James Nesbitt...miles apart and attempting to outsmart one another they each sit naked before a naked flame; Nesbitt looks like a middle-aged man pleasuring himself while his wife is in the other room, shuddering, groaning and grunting but Dickie seems to be genuinely in touch with something outside of herself.  It's the perfect example of why she is, without doubt, the finest actress working in Scotland...and possibly the UK.

There are things to enjoy in "Outcast"...the story of a young man being hunted in connection with some dark secret, some of the special effects, the performance of Dickie and the backdrop of a never more sinister Edinburgh the truth is that you are left feeling disappointed and not mesmerised.  A missed opportunity for all concerned.

1 comment:

  1. Never appeared on screen? What about your amazing performance as a smug know-it-all in those modern studies schools' programmes? Now that was acting!