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Playing with black dice: “Outpost”

October 16, 2013

Our next installment of October Spooktacular 2013 serves to remind us that the Nazis were real dickbags. No, they were. I mean, putting along with the whole genocidal rampage thing, check out the misdeeds chronicled in this blog alone: They torment a centuries-old monster (good idea, that—hey, how’s Operation Barbarossa going for you?), try and steal the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, and even when you kill them, they just come back as zombies. What a bunch of knobheads. Well, in Outpost, they rear their ugly death’s-head again to reach across time and spread terror and death. And this time, there’s not an Indiana Jones in sight. No, in this little-seen horror flick, there is just time and ammunition holding off the monsters—and both of those things are finite.

Outpost kicks off in a seedy bar in an unspecified Eastern European country wracked with warfare. A mercenary named DC (Ray Stevenson) has been approached by a mysterious stranger named Hunt (Julian Wadham) who needs a team to deliver him safely to a specific location in the countryside. It’s no mean feat, DC points out, since the insurgents and the government forces have been exchanging fire in that area. Plus, the UN has Peacekeepers trying to, well, keep the peace there. But Hunt has wealthy backers, and meets DC’s price, so he takes the gig. Forty-eight hours, in and out…Yeah, I’m sure it’ll go like clockwork.

DC puts together a team, which consists of his partner, a redneck names Prior (Richard Brake), and a motley collection that includes a former Royal Marine, a West African former child-soldier, and a couple of Eastern Europeans as unspecified as the country. Seems like a small team, but I guess when you’re in the merc game you take what you can get. Well, they make their way out to the location and find a ruined old World War II bunker. Now, as I’ve pointed out before, abandoned bunkers almost never have anything good in them. If they did—try and follow along here—they wouldn’t be abandoned!

Yeah, this is the sort of thing you generally find in abandoned bunkers.

Yeah, this is the sort of thing you generally find in abandoned bunkers.

To make matters worse, as soon as they arrive their comms start getting stepped on by an electronic screech (the radio operator attributes this to the fact that their radio equipment “was built before they invented trees”). Yeah, that’s always a good omen. If that wasn’t bad enough, they take some fire, and one of their guys is injured, forcing them to hole up in the bunker. Man, if I were them I’d be hoping there was ice cream or a jazz quartet or something like that down there.

Nope. There are corpses. A whole pile, along with one “breather”—an emaciated man so mentally fried, he’s practically a vegetable. They also find a lot of Nazi paraphernalia , leading most of the group to believe that Hunt is after some Nazi gold. Sure. If only it was that easy. No, what Hunt is after is a big, weird machine that he promptly turns on. Suddenly, the weather topside goes all screwy, with powerful winds and strobing lighting, and then the attack begins in earnest.

"Supernatural monsters are no match for my trusty AK-47."

“Supernatural monsters are no match for my trusty AK-47.”

There are a lot of things wrong with the vaguely-defined silhouettes that attack from the tree line. For one, they never seem to go down. For another, they manage to slip in and out of the perimeter without disturbing the mines Prior set. And finally when one of them manages to spirit away the injured merc, he leaves behind an Iron Cross medal. This would be disturbing enough, even if they didn’t torture the holy living fuck out of the merc, just so his screams could unsettle his comrades throughout the night. As Prior puts it, “they’re playing with some black dice.”

Now DC demands answers from Hunt, and with an assist from some home-movies the Nazis left behind, he learns that what Hunt has been sent after is a secret Nazi experiment using Einstein’s notes on Unified Field Theory. Basically, as the movie posits it, UFD could allow a soldier to become discorporeal and move freely through space and time. I think. I was shopping on eBay while the explanation was given.  But the upshot is that by activating the machine, Hunt has brought the Nazi volunteers back through time, and they are not happy about their bunker being invaded.

"Um, guttentag? Cigaretten?"

“Um, guten tag. zIgarette?”

Well, I don’t want to give much more away, since Outpost is an effective little entry in the “military-meets-the-supernatural along the lines of The Objective or Dog Soldiers. It’s well made, and directed with an eye both for the supernatural and for action sequences. If I’ve got one complaint it’s that the ending’s a bit of an inevitability. Director/co-writer Steve Barker and his writing team could have put some work into that. But the performances are uniformly good, with Stevenson being a standout in yet another disreputable entertainment (at least it’s a step up from The Punisher). Man, Rome didn’t open any doors for you, did it?

Dig deep, Ray. There ain't gonna be another Punisher movie.

Dig deep, Ray. There ain’t gonna be another Punisher movie.

Plus this movie features the greatest reaction to a reanimated corpse ever.

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