Outpost: Black Sun review

Though Steve Barker’s 2008 Nazi-Zombie Brit Flick “Outpost” was generally met with warm reviews, it never managed to gain the exposure, nor the success of predecessor Brit flicks like Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” or the universally underrated “Dog Soldiers”. Personally, I found that although it was a fairly entertaining way to spend ninety minutes of my time, the story was never really fleshed out further than the concept of Nazi-Zombies taking down soldiers of fortune in a war bunker. “Outpost: Black Sun”; which was released direct to DVD just over three weeks ago, is a far more ambitious outing.

We begin with Lena, a young Nazi hunter with a family grudge, a woman hot on the heels of a man she believes to be one of the few remaining Nazi war criminals; the mysterious Klausener. Her search takes her to Eastern Europe, where NATO forces have gone to war against a seemingly invincible enemy. Desperate to locate Klausener, our feisty protagonist finds herself crossing paths with Wallace; a scientist with inside knowledge as to who the enemy are and how to defeat them. Together, they cross over enemy lines and find themselves rescued from the thick of battle by a British task force, under orders to locate the Nazi war machine and destroy it before the fate of the world is lost to “The 4th Reich”.

For me, “Outpost: Black Sun” is almost the perfect sequel. It builds on the foundations of an original concept and expands into a universe that’s already dubbed to become a trilogy. It contains a story arc that allows the movie to stand on it’s own two feet, opting not to confine itself to restrictions setout by the first film.

Consider what James Cameron achieved when following up to Ridley Scott’s critically acclaimed “Alien”. The first movie was an atmospheric stalk and slash horror movie (now I’m not labelling “Alien” a slasher movie here, but it is what it is), whereas follow up movie “Aliens” was a balls to the wall, no holds barred action epic. Two completely different movies linked by subject matter within the same universe. Well, this movie runs a similar race. Whereas “Outpost” kept things simple, kept the big bad lurking in the shadows, “Black Sun” throws everything onto the canvas. The story moves more into sci-fi and adventure territory, giving us more of an understanding of the force-field contraption that controls the un-dead, and what it’s full capabilities are. This kind of rubbed an Indiana Jones style vibe against me and I have to applaud the writers for this, because in such an overpopulated sub-genre, there’s only so much you can do with a zombie flick without coming across as repetitive or uninspired.

Like in the first movie, the enemy are seemingly invincible. Yes, they are zombies, but they’re not Romero’s zombies. Here, we’re offered more of a Jason Voorhees (Friday part 6 and onwards) un-dead foe that really ups the ante, and just like everybody’s favourite hockey-masked slasher, these guys don’t just want to end you, they want to inflict serious pain beforehand. Yes, the kill scenes are sure to wet the appetite of the seasoned nostalgic gore hounds. I mean, who needs torture porn when you can stab a guy in the face half a dozen times?

Considering it’s modest budget of just under £3,000,000, the production value is outstanding. However, due to the movie’s sci-fi elements, there’s not quite enough there to save the third act from coming across as slightly cheesy. The last twenty minutes or so, though entertaining to say the least, wanders into B-Movie territory and kind of tarnishes the finished product. Another problem for me were the characters themselves. There’s absolutely no relativity there at all. If you currently find yourself being a Brit Flick Virgin, then you’ll probably enjoy the banter and interactions between the NATO soldiers when things get a little hairy. For me, the characters were one dimensional and the humour felt somewhat familiar.

If the producers do manage to finance a proposed third movie to the “Outpost” franchise, the only way I can see it progressing would be to go one step further and go beyond the confines of the bunker. To do this and not come across as visually cheap or cheesy would require a substantial cash injection. I for one hope to see this happen because Steve Barker and co-writer Rae Brunton’s “Outpost: Black Sun” shows tremendous creativity and proved to be an entertaining way for me to spend my evening.

You can check out “Outpost: Black Sun” via a decent VOD service now, and own it on DVD as of the 27th of August.

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