‘Outpost’ Addresses Mental Health Issues Through A Horror Perspective [FrightFest 2022 Review]

Mental health is a difficult topic to address in film, so Outpost deserves credit for openly tackling how untreated mental health issues can seriously impact a person’s well-being. Writer and director Joe Lo Truglio described in the talk after the FrightFest screening how he wanted to create a horror film which addressed mental health in a respectful way, and he no doubt succeeded on this front.

Beth Dover stars as Kate, a woman who recently escaped from an abusive relationship. After rejecting therapy, Kate accepts a voluntary position as a fire post lookout in a tower on a rural mountain. While she apparently wants the job because of the important role of keeping the forest and nearby settlements safe from fires, it soon becomes clear that she just wanted to be away from people for three months.

As the days turn into weeks, Kate’s untreated mental health issues gradually become worse throughout her voluntary confinement in her isolated fire tower. At one point she even claims to notice plumes of smoke that others cannot see. To make matters worse, she also starts to experience hallucinations regarding the people she meets during her brief periods away from the fire tower. This leads her to believe that Reggie (Dylan Baker), who lives in a house away from society, might have killed his wife.

As Output progresses, Kate’s descent into hopelessness becomes more palpable, making viewers become desperate for her to receive the help she desperately needs. As her untreated mental health issues begin to exacerbate, Kate gradually becomes more unhinged. This leads her to eventually grab an axe in order to take action against those who she feels deserve to feel her wrath. She’s prodded into committing these violent actions by Bertha (Becky Ann Baker), a friendly hitchhiker who might just be a figment of her imagination. As Kate continues down her violent path, Outpost becomes more akin to a slasher movie, with some hardcore and brutal kills being on display. Dover’s strong performance as a woman who is clearly struggling with PTSD and other serious issues will no doubt leave us feeling sympathetic for Kate, even after the murders begin.

In addition to Dover’s performance as Kate, the supporting cast also needs to be commended for their contributions to Outpost. Ato Essandoh appears as Earl, the well-meaning sheriff of the nearby town who genuinely wants to help Kate despite having doubts about whether she is ready for her firewatching position. Essandoh’s performance will leave you certain that Earl cares about Kate while also growing increasingly concerned as her issues start to become more noticeable.

At the same time, Ta’Rea Campbell also shows up as Nic, Kate’s friend and Earl’s sister, who also wants the best for Kate despite having doubts about whether she is ready for her fire-watching position. On the other hand, Baker is effective as Reggie, a character who willingly chooses to spend most of his time in the woods away from society. We can probably all relate to his desire for isolation to some extent, so we no doubt sympathize with Reggie when things really start to hit the fan.

The key message presented by Outpost was that you should never feel nervous or ashamed to ask for help if you need it. Kate’s gradual descent is clearly presented from a sympathetic viewpoint. On top of its serious themes, the third act also functions as an effective slasher film in its own right. This was a strong and moving tale of one woman’s struggles with mental health issues, as Lo Truglio clearly wanted to use the medium of the horror genre to convey real-life issues in an entertaining and thought-provoking way, making Outpost a film that horror fans need to check out.



With its strong performances and serious themes, Outpost is a film which horror fans cannot afford to miss.



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