A few months ago I saw a cool Fox promo. It teased the return of The Walking Dead – which is one of my favourite shows – but also a new show from the same creator of the zombie TV series. This is how I first heard about Outcast.
Given that I knew absolutely nothing about the show – only that Robert Kirkman created the series and that it was a horror about possession – I looked forward to watching the show as it neared the premiere date.
Despite the comic being two years old (publication started in June 2014 by writer Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta) and 18 issues already released, the titles are still relatively new and as such they obviously rode the wave of The Walking Dead quite heavily in order to promote the show. I have now seen three episodes and here are some initial knee-jerk reactions so far.
The belief with any show these days is that you have to grab your audience immediately. Some shows get a few episodes if they’re lucky before someone decides whether to carry on. Some only get the pilot. Some only get the first few minutes. Outcast only needed the first few minutes and I was hooked.
I think Robert Kirkman discovered the secret behind getting people to keep watching: use a kid and make them horrifying. In The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes had to kill a little zombie girl by shooting her in the head. That was the first few minutes. In Outcast, we are introduced to a kid named Joshua in a very creepy and unexpected way. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but let me just say, this scene was where I decided to keep watching. I understand that it could be where some people would stop watching; which is fine. The show is not for everyone but what an introduction.
Our protagonist is Kyle Barnes who lives by himself, keeps to himself and wants to remain that way. He is clearly troubled and depressed, but is visited by Megan – his sister – who hopes to bring him back into civilisation. In every interaction with another human being, his uneasiness shines through. He looks very much like a fish out of water and we’re only given bits and pieces about his character, his family, his relationships and his troubled past.
What I like about the character is that he is somehow fearful and fearless. Key members of his family were possessed by an evil force that seems to have a vendetta against Kyle, and has ultimately ruined his life. But he knows that he is the secret to defeating the demonic force so he investigates Joshua’s possession and actively gets involved. When confronting the demon spirit he is direct and forceful but you can just tell he more terrified than anything else.
How he deals with his troubled past and his broken relationships is something I’m looking forward to and interested to see how it develops.
Kyle Barnes is roped into a very unlikely partnership with Reverend Anderson, who is a key figure in the community and is brought in to exorcise the demon in Joshua. Reverend Anderson is a people person who, along with the town’s Sheriff, are called upon to rescue the town’s people from forces both local and supernatural.
The Reverend welcomes Kyle’s fascination with Joshua’s case as he knows that Kyle has first hand experience with demonic possession in various moments in his life. The two forge a bond and take it upon themselves to investigate other cases of possession in the surrounding areas. I like how comfortable this partnership feels. The Reverend and his crucifix side by side with the Outcast that seemingly has holy water running through his veins. While they both have secrets and are not best friends, I am excited to see where this duo is headed.
The pilot is fantastic and mysterious, but the story moves at a slow pace thereafter. Breaking Bad was the same way, but picked up in a big way and is my favourite series of all time. I have to admit though there are some moments in the first few episodes of Outcast where scenes dragged on a bit and nothing of substance was really happening, but then a really cool demonic scene takes place and you just have to keep watching.
The exorcism scenes is so captivating that you just cannot look away. Visually it is spectacular and unnerving, especially when the demonic force makes it’s way out of the body and confronts Kyle. The flashbacks with his possessed mother is super intense as well. But these moments are few and far between.
Outcast is essentially The Walking Dead (big surprise) but with the zombie scenes replaced with exorcism scenes. Although Kyle is a much more interesting character than Rick.
Outcast is not going to set the world on fire by any stretch of the imagination. But it does have an interesting story with great characters and visually stunning and horrific exorcism scenes. For those interested in watching the series, which I highly recommend for those who are fans of the horror genre and Robert Kirkman’s work, here is the teaser trailer: