Robert Kirkman's 'Outcast' gives us another monster to fear in new possession thriller
If Robert Kirkman's intent was to give us more monsters to be scared of he did it with Outcast.
First he gave us the world of the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead. Now he gives us the devilish world of Kyle Barnes. Based on Kirkman's other hit comic book series, Outcast follows Kyle (Patrick Fugit), the town misfit who's been plagued by demonic possession all his life. The demons don't touch him — at least not yet — but they inhabit those he loves the most.
Released two weeks early, Outcast's premiere episode "Darkness Surrounds Him" sets up the main characters and delivers one of the most unsettling opening scenes I've had the displeasure of watching.
Having the first thing we see in this show be a giant cockroach crawling down a wall while a ghostly little boy looks on really sets up the queasy feeling that pervades the show. Instead of leaving the bug alone (or burning down the entire house like I would) little Joshua smashes his forehead into the wall, leaving a bloody smear where the bug was.
I'm not one to close my eyes during horror movies, but I actually left the room when Joshua started munching on the bug and licking every last bit of blood and exoskeleton off the wall.
Since that crunch wasn't enough, Joshua moves onto potato chips, and then his own finger.
Outcast isn't full of ghosts, guts and gore, but shocks us with unsettling flashbacks and hints of demonic activity before we get to the creepy voices and levitation.
The show holds off on revealing too many details about Kyle's past until the third episode, which keeps viewers desperately wanting to know more about his estranged wife and daughter, the demon who's following him and what he did to become estranged with the rest of the town.
Kyle is haunted by his past, especially by the demon who consumed his mother. Flashbacks of her throwing him around the kitchen and locking him in the pantry come at just the right time to explain his actions and the constant weary look on his face.
While struggling to decide between remaining the town outcast and fixing his mistakes with his family, Kyle is thrust into the limelight in order to help Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) free Joshua from possession.
The not-so-simple act of helping Joshua puts Kyle on a journey to reclaim his own life and free himself from the literal demons who've haunted him ever since he was a child. Turns out this demon is after a lot more than just possessing the fictional town of Rome, West Virginia.
Naturally, it'll be up to Kyle to save the world.
Aside from the incident with the bug and the potato chips, the first episode leaps straight from the comics. Whether you're reading or watching the story of the evil following Kyle, the emotions are the same. High tension and disturbing details leave us cringing, yet wanting to see more.
Outcast isn't the typical possession thriller where an innocent, God-fearing churchgoer is suddenly consumed by a demon and made to do unspeakable things. There's plenty of gore, but it's not overloaded. It's almost tasteful.
Instead of projectile vomit, brutal self harm and foul language, the real horror comes from simple gray-scaled flashbacks of Kyle's childhood kitchen. The drawings on the inside of the pantry door. The lone tooth found under a hutch from his mother. The wooden spoon that used to lock his mother inside the pantry.
His mother may not be able to harm him anymore, but Kyle is still trapped inside that dark pantry in his mind.
Outcast premieres Friday, June 3 at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham.