Exorcism stories are tricky. Their usual disturbing imagery can be either worthless shock value, or just part of overall drama. In the case of Outcast, Robert Kirkman’s latest comic turned TV series, dark storytelling has been honed to a deadly serious point.
Drawing from decades of exorcism movies Outcast could have easily fallen into a quick, and sticky trap. Instead it manages to bring the methodical, atmospheric aspects of good exorcism stories, a la The Exorcist, back to the screen.
If you’re familiar with the Outcast comic (and you really should be) it’s pretty easy to get excited over how faithfully Cinemax has brought these characters to life. In every way the Characters of Outcast are rather ordinary. Everyone is relatable, and I think was what Kirkman was going for. Outcast’s frightfulness stems from its simplicity, and relatability.
I love how they’ve captured the drabness of the comic, coupled with an eerie sense of calm. When the action hits, however, it really takes you off guard. I was wary of how this story would translate to television because it’s an inherently slow-paced, contemplative story, broken up by occasional moments of terror. I’m glad they’ve been able to capture the feel of the comic pretty much exactly, and yet it’s in no way too slow to stay gripping.
One thing that sets Outcast apart from other exorcism stories is how it treats the incidents of possession, and exorcism. There’s very little of the “holy” aspect of possession struggle. As much as that’s central to the story, it’s not so much harped on as it is assumed. Those involved just get to the point. It’s a dirty, terrible experience but it hast to get done, and these are these guys that have seen, and done it all before. What sets Outcast apart is how the characters are linked to the possessions, but that’s all I’ll say about that.
I’m not sure at what pace they plan on moving the story along, but each issue of the comic could easily be its own episode. With fewer than twenty issues so far that could be a couple of seasons. I’ve no idea if they plan on moving beyond the source material, or if they’re going to deviate from it, but either way I think the first episode has set a great foundation for a show that is going to surprise a lot of people with its honesty, and imagery. Be sure to give it a try!
Outcast premiers on Cinemax on Friday, June 3rd at 10pm.