Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Outrage (2009)

A total genre mixup

"Outrage" includes backwoods yokels, city slickers, spirits, healers and who could forget crazed military ex-cons. The location of Georgia is about the only aspect that stays still. The subgenres change over from a death in the family, vacation, potential love, hostage, spiritual, thriller and survivalist with some tongue-in-cheek humor if that wasn't enough regarding other films--yep, these guys have ADHD or they're assuming you do with all your various electronic gizmos and gadgets to distract... Instead of the experience being refreshing, it feels like an Easter egg hunt where people show up that weren't invited, you're to scour for unguessable items without a map and rules are added and subtracted on sheer whim.

An oafish looking hunter named Billy gets struck by lightning and gains a new perspective on hunting animals for sport. Next a woman and man are being hunted in another stretch of woods by far more dangerous rednecks called the Loomis brothers, only to run off and get killed by a sniper. Oblivious, a woman named Christine and her pal Trey (director Ace "Friend Zone" Cruz) are headed out for the remote area to sell her late dad's cabin that Billy was a caretaker for. Two of their friends--a wild husband and wife--show up for a mini vacation that gets cut short for all when the Loomis brothers and mysterious leader Farragut--who were former inmates from the local military prison--tie them up and terrorize them. In the ordeal, Billy dies but his spirit comes out of his body to watch the events unfold. The remaining escape but have to fight for their lives in the nearby woods.

Billy's character frequently narrates overtop like a "Sling Blade" meets "Forrest Gump" with life's little lessons in between. "Sometimes life's like a seesaw. One minute everything is happy and fun. The next minute, it ain't." His pal, same exact actor from "Deliverance," doesn't speak but lets his banjo do the talking with a sixth sense for picking up pitches of people's emotions. There's a fine line between acting slow and coming across as accidentally comical in all the wrong places or just plain retarded if the performer doesn't create staying power or charm. Billy's character goes over the mark, which makes it a challenge to take it with any shred of merit. Especially since they made him such a typical hillbilly caricature with overalls and fake chompers to boot. It's possible they only wanted to be light hearted but he ended up being cartoonish at times.

Michael Madsen plays a condescending military man with nothing to lose. It's all sadistic fun and games as he torments and terrorizes his captives with little end goal in mind to make him more of a mad man--except like all diabolical villains he might have a surprise up his sleeve. Michael Berryman plays a faith healer of little words named Obeah who gives Christine a healing rock and advice about losing her fear or else she won't win the fight. Christine was kidnapped when she was younger and has a rage regarding it. Her father taught her how to survive and protect herself, which isn't always capitalized on here as she runs more than fights.

This can make one's head spin as it's both a conflicting story as to what to feel or where it's headed next but then at other points it's treated so simplistically as to hold the audience's hand with a quick and lazy narration overtop about who, when or why. This tries to do a different type of thriller/survival film, though a share of the characters don't feel real to life but just thrown together for contrast's sake. Not to mention the sequences of events are told in such an awkward way as to lose the viewer in subtext over and over again without giving a break for breathing room. It has heart and loads of ambition but the lack of resources and power to pull everything off. It threw together far too many clashing tones without measuring them out or giving time for a steady focal point; the various musical cues--from old-fashioned to modern--didn't exactly help bring it together either. Its attempts at trying to make this serious and tongue-in-cheek at the same time falls flat. The experience makes one feel detached without a stable mood to latch onto.

There are some messages that deal with violence and how hate can destroy a person by following them around if they don't let go. Despite not working entirely, the story does come full circle for all those involved, so there's some meaning for the viewing experience instead of just going with a throw away film with superficial action moves and violence; it's a good thing as the action choreography usually consists of them running from place to place--sometimes tripping--without always giving a challenging cat and mouse chase.

The verdict: the film never manages to slow its ambitious heels to make the overall experience move at the same time as the audience instead of getting too overexcited and running ahead.

Rating: 2.5/10

Director: Ace Cruz (Fate, Desert of Death)
Stars: Paulyd, Katie Fountain, Ace Cruz, Natasha Lyonne, Michael Madsen, Michael Madsen, Michael Berryman
Link: IMDB

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