Review: ‘Outpost’

'Brooklyn 99'’s Joe Lo Truglio Tries His Hand At Horror With His Directorial Debut

Kate (Beth Dover) managed to escape an abusive relationship in Outpost. Her ex-boyfriend Mike (Tim Neff) viciously beat her and is still out there somewhere. Having tried therapy, Kate feels like she needs to get away from everyone and everything to properly heal. With her best friend Nickie’s (Ta’Rea Campbell) help, Kate becomes an Idaho Lands Department Volunteer. Nickie’s brother Earl (Ato Essandoh) hires Kate for a three-month position at an outpost station. Kate will be responsible for monitoring the area for forest fires and reporting conditions to Earl.

If solitude was what Kate was after, she found it. Her life for the next three months will be almost totally isolated. On top of that, her living situation at the top of the outpost tower is far from a Ritz Carlton. Kate quickly befriends the nearest neighbor Reggie (Dylan Baker). Reggie is a widower who welcomes Kate’s company on certain days and despises it others. Kate also meets a local hiker Bertha (Becky Ann Baker) who shares a similar past. Yet these interactions are few and far between. As the summer months drag on, Kate begins blurring the lines of reality.

Joe Lo Truglio both wrote and directed Outpost. The film is his feature-length writing and directing debut. While far from perfect, really running out of steam for the final act, Outpost is still an impressive debut. Coming from a comedic background, one typically does not associate Lo Truglio with horror. Recently Jordan Peele has proven that you can successfully make such a transition. While Peele’s work certainly has more comedic elements to it, Outpost falls more squarely in the traditional horror realm.

Outpost touches on numerous sensitive subjects – from domestic violence to sexual assault to sexual orientation. Lo Truglio manages to convey Kate’s inner turmoil in unique ways that resonate. Outpost features its fair share of ominous music in the background setting up scenes for both real and perceived dangers. Lo Truglio successfully employs long and isolating shots, capturing the seclusion that Kate is experiencing in the wilderness.

For most of the film, Lo Truglio uses a balanced and measured approach. The film does not try and do too much and flows nicely. His script is relatively simple, but effective. Lo Truglio breaks the narrative up into chapters that coincide with the summer months allowing the film to flow. For a majority of the movie, Lo Truglio builds a suspenseful atmosphere that succeeds at keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Then everything crumbles like a house of cards. The subtlety has vanished, and we are left scratching our heads. Even with a shaky finale, there is enough to enjoy in Outpost to make it worth a watch. There is also reason for optimism for future films from the mind of Joe Lo Truglio.

Outpost is available now in theaters and On Demand.