Outpost 11 Movie Review
Written and Directed by Anthony Woodley
2012, 92 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 30th September 2013
Graham as Billy Clarke
Mason as Luke Healy
Joshua Mayes-Cooper as Albert
Bernard Hill as Cranleigh
Graham Till as General Lord Hall
With Outpost 11, newcomer Anthony Woodley confidently strides onto the UK indie scene as a director well worth keeping an eye on. His feature debut transports us to a 30s-esque wartime world existing in an alternate universe where steam has become the dominant energy source. However this Steampunk inflection serves only as a minor background device as Woodley shies away from moustache twiddling and begoggled faces in favor of a more sinister narrative. While not without its teething problems Outpost 11 contains enough bizarre intrigue and creative flair to keep your interest piqued until its dark and hypnotic resolution. Ready to stand watch?
We find ourselves stuck with three army officers stationed in a small bunker in a remote part of the Arctic. This unfortunate trio is charged with the maddening task of scouring days worth of radio static for word of enigmatic codes or war developments from the outside world. The clean cut Mason (Luke Healy) heads up the listening post team, joined in close quarters by old-boy Graham (Billy Clarke) and young rookie Albert (Joshua Mayes-Cooper). Pretty soon we learn that Graham is a remnant of an old-school ‘For King and Country’ archetype that’s at constant odds with his colleagues. While Mason tries to keep Graham’s twisted ego in check, poor Albert receives the brunt of his acid-tongued wrath for being as he bluntly puts it, ‘a disgrace to the uniform’.
Yet it’s clear that Graham is fully aware he’s a dying breed. Whenever we catch him alone - usually snorting some mystery drug, attempting masturbation or flat-out weeping - the machismo is gone, leaving a broken man with a splintered world view. It’s an interesting dynamic to see emerge from the gritted-teeth yet small statured Billy Clark and as the compound is infiltrated by an invisible threat we watch him push it as far as it’ll go. With Mason leaving in search of help, Albert and Graham are plagued by visions of giant spiders and suspicions of backstabbery, all while remaining under the watchful eye of an ominous machine lurking in the basement.
Woodley’s claustrophobic first feature channels the quiet insanity of The Shining, mixing a dash of The Thing's otherworldly paranoia with his stylised directing skills and a perfectly assigned cast. You may remember the excellent Billy Clark dominating the screen back in 2011’s hit-man horror The Devil’s Business. He does the same here, emitting a seething presence that you’d certainly think twice about crossing and resembling an unhinged Clint Eastwood with a Belfast accent. Elsewhere Woodley hits a few minor speed bumps, most noticeably in exposition. The ‘alternate universe’ aspect could be better explained to avoid raised eyebrows at the appearance of a TV and VHS tape later in the story and while it could be down to this reviewer receiving an un-finished screener, the boom mic was jarringly visible during many of the later scenes. Still, it’s hard to knock what Woodley has created with such a modest budget. Here’s a director with a clear-cut sense of style just waiting for bigger things. Watch this space.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.