Better known to most audiences as an actor in films such as Superbad, Hot American Summer and Role Models and shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The State, Joe Lo Truglio has now turned his hand to a starring role behind the camera as he takes up the director’s seat for his feature debut Outpost.
The film stars Beth Dover as Kate. The victim of a horrific domestic abuse attack, Kate has been left both physically and mentally scarred and traumatised. Unable to move past the attack, Kate’s best friend Nicki (Ta’rea Campbell) suggests that Kate go and work for her brother Earl (Ato Essandoh) who needs an operator to man an outpost tower. Kate accepts the job which involves scanning the surrounding forest and horizon for signs of fire and recording statistics about the humidity and rainfall. Situated in the remote wilderness and tasked with staying at the outpost for at least three months, this appears to be the perfect scenario to allow Kate to get way from it all and recover in solitude. But soon Kate begins to realise that perhaps she is not as alone as she first thought…
Unresolved trauma, violence and a character alone in the vast wilderness – Outpost sets up several horror scenarios from the start. However, Lo Truglio uses clever misdirection to subvert the audiences’ expectations. Where at first Outpost appears to be about Kate and how she will handle the solitary existence of an outpost operator in an environment that is as dangerous as it is beautiful, soon other characters are introduced that change the narrative. Outpost frequently plays with the audiences’ perception of these characters as well and as the story unfolds, horror may come from the unlikeliest of places.
Throughout, Outpost keeps a taut atmosphere of tension and suspense. The story is always intriguing enough that the audience wants to watch on and what unfolds will certainly spark debate. Whilst Dover takes centre stage here, it is the supporting players that put in the most impressive performances. In particular there are great turns from Becky Ann Baker, Dylan Baker and Dallas Roberts. The setting is also great and looks so much better for being filmed on location rather than using stock footage or effects to create the tower.
Whilst it might be fair to say that Outpost deals in ambiguity and unreliable narrators, there is a danger that the film ends up underplaying the seriousness and believability of domestic abuse victims. Getting the audience to question Kate and what has happened to her, and by making her behave in certain ways, does feel a bit uneasy and discomfiting.
In spite of certain missteps, overall Outpost shows that Lo Truglio has great promise for genre filmmaking. It will be great to see what he does next.
Outpost will be available on Digital Download from 11th September and available to pre-order HERE
Horror, Thriller | USA, 2022 | 15 | Digital | 11th September 2023 (UK) | Lightbulb Film Distribution | Dir Joe Lo Truligo | Beth Dover, Ato Essandoh, Dylan Baker, Becky Ann Baker, Dallas Roberts, Ta’Rea Campbell