DVD Review: Outcast

(Momentum Pictures)

THERE are precious few decent British horror films which move away from the gothic staples of Hammer to exploit the nation’s gritty urban underbelly, tapping into the paranoia, decay and lawlessness of some of our cities’ less salubrious districts.

It came as a refreshing change to find Outcast was rooted firmly in the run-down council estates of Edinburgh, where looming tower blocks cast a grim shadow over the skeletons of burned out cars and graffiti-sprayed remnants of children’s playgrounds.

The arrival of Irish travellers Mary (Kate Dickie) and her teenage son Fergal (Niall Bruton) initially seems harmless enough, but behind closed doors they reveal secrets of ritualistic witchcraft, ancient curses and cold bloody murder…

When Fergal makes friends with his feisty neighbour Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge), his mother fiercely resists the relationship from developing, knowing they must keep a low profile in order to evade the pursuit of hunter Cathal (James Nesbitt), a man with secrets of his own…

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But when a spate of brutal murders rocks the suburban estate, it soon becomes clear that both Fergal and Cathal are somehow linked to the killings, setting things up for a desperate final confrontation between the pair…

Despite lapsing somewhat in terms of originality – there’s little here you wouldn’t find in any traditional werewolf yarn for example – it’s the context and characterisation which drives Outcast forwards, as it becomes almost a celebration of how our ancient folklore is forced to survive in today’s brutal society.

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A stand-out debut from director Colm McCarthy, and one of the most enjoyable British horror films for some time. Highly recommended.

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