I’m a big fan of Robert Kirkman and have the honor of doing the weekly reviews of AMC’s The Walking Dead here at Biff Bam Pop! Kirkman has a new show on Cinemax and like TWD, Outcast is based on his comic book series of the same name from Image. While TWD deals with the ever shuffling walkers, Outcast deals with possession. Are demons scarier than walkers? Grab your holy water and find out after the jump.
Outcast, the new horror creation of Kirkman’s that premiered June 3rd, is based on the comic by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta. The television series, which stars Patrick Fugit, Phillip Glenister, Wrenn Schmidt, David Denman and Reg E. Cathey, is a ten-episode rollercoaster ride into the world of demonic possession. Chris Black is the executive producer along with Robert Kirkman and David Alpert
The story centers on Kyle Barnes, played by Patrick Fugit of Almost Famous. Kyle is a quiet man with dark memories from his childhood of being tortured by his mother who was a victim of demonic possession. When Andy Burns asked me if I’d seen Outcast, I said no. I’m not a fan of possession shows. I’m a psychic who does ghost investigations and demons are real and scary. I keep my distance. But, I do like the way Robert Kirkman’s mind works, so I grabbed my bottle of holy water and watched the show wondering if I’d be brave enough to review this show every week.
A Darkness Surrounds Him
The first episode, titled “A Darkness Surrounds Him,” was directed by Adam Wingard and begins with a freakishly disturbing scene involving a young boy named Joshua and a disgusting cockroach. I have not read the comic series, but rumor has it that the television series’ first few episodes closely follow the comics and if this is true, I better start reading the comics.
Kyle Barnes is a recluse when we first meet him. He is staying at his childhood home which is in total disarray due to the unfinished packing begun by the authorities who rescued him as a young boy from his deranged mother. There’s no running water and Kyle sleeps on the floor of his bedroom. The closet in the kitchen holds clues to what happened in the past.
Kyle has a stepsister, Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) who cares about the boy who was adopted by her parents after he was rescued. There is a bond between these siblings and a clue that Kyle had somehow protected his sister from a horrid event and has earned the begrudging gratitude of his brother-in-law, Mark (David Denman) who happens to be a police officer of the town of Rome. Mark doesn’t want Kyle in his house or near his daughter, but why? Megan gets Kyle out of the house to go food shopping and later invites him home for dinner. She mentions to Kyle that a little boy is experiencing some trouble. The expression on Kyle’s face warns us that he knows exactly what’s happening.
Through flashbacks, we witness how Kyle was abused and locked inside the kitchen closet by his mother for days. Kyle’s scratched-on door art tells a story of utter abandonment and fear. The horror of child abuse at the hands of a parent is made more nightmarish with the fact that the mother was under the control of a demon who took joy in the torturing of Kyle. We learn through a conversation with a neighbor that everyone suspected what had been going on in the house, they just hadn’t acted on it. People are loath to interfere with parental corporal punishment, but sometimes we must, especially when that parent is crazy wicked.
I was confused as to why Kyle returned to such a toxic environment, but we soon find out that the thing that took over his mother had followed him. Through flashbacks, we learn that Kyle’s happy marriage was destroyed when his wife had been possessed and was in the process of killing her daughter. Luckily Kyle arrived home just in time, but we are left with the feeling that Kyle had been blamed for the daughter’s injuries. This now explains Mark’s actions.
Exorcism or Bust
There is darkness in the town of Rome, but luckily for the residents, their gambling, hard-drinking clergyman is willing to do battle for them. Reverend Anderson (played by Philip Glenister) knows exactly what’s happening to Joshua, played so convincingly by Gabriel Bateman.
While Joshua’s mom freaks out about her son eating the biggest roach I never want to see again and nibbling on his own finger, Reverend Anderson goes right into his exorcism routine without much success.
This show features lots of violence–demon against human; human against demon–but demos were never known to be pleasant companions. And Reverend Anderson gives a clue that demons want us to be more frightened of them than we need to be. If Kyle had ever blamed himself for what happened to his mother and then to his wife, his encounter with Joshua gives evidence that there is more at work here especially since the demon residing in Joshua knows Kyle.
In this show, for every dark entity that wreaks havoc on this world, there is a warrior of light ready to send demons back to hell. The thing that possesses Joshua is drawn to Kyle’s light and it hints that there is an invasion of sorts coming.
I read in an interview done with Kirkman on Rolling Stone that the idea for Outcast came from personal experience. He’d witnessed an exorcism as a child. That’s something no child should witness, but as a child raised in the Catholic religion, I was taught that the Devil was real and that his main joy in life was to screw up God’s plans. With the state of the world today, I’d say the Devil is very happy.
I see dead people, but I make sure to keep a wide distance between me and the creatures who want to steal our light, our energy force. I don’t like watching shows about possession, but there is something so right with Kirkman’s Outcast that has me willing to do the reviews each week… of course, I’ll be watching the series with my bible and a economy size bottle of holy water at my side.