You may have heard of Joe Lo Truglio from his comedic roots in films and shows like Superbad, Pineapple Express, and, more recently, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Interestingly, Truglio takes a step in the opposite direction with his directorial debut, Outpost (2023). The film is an isolating tale about PTSD and the repercussions of being a victim of domestic abuse. It is evident that Truglio is a huge fan of The Shining as there are homages to the film scattered throughout this 90-minute narrative.
Outpost stars Truglio’s wife, Beth Dover (Orange Is the New Black), as the lead character, Kate. She is a woman who volunteers as a park ranger tasked to be on the lookout for forest fires in a tower located at the top of a mountain. The film’s opening moments let you know that Kate has been in an abusive relationship and slowly reveal her tragic backstory as the story progresses.
Kate takes the job at this isolated tower to escape from everything she’s been through and to escape from her abusive partner. However, Kate doesn’t know that sometimes isolation can also be your greatest demise, as the line between delusion and reality gets blurred the longer she stays there. We have all learned in a post-pandemic world that we crave human connections, and being alone can only work for so long.
One thing that Outpost excels at is its beautiful setting. The film is draped in luscious greenery that’s filmed so elegantly, giving you a sense of serenity amid the horrific nature of the story. Cinematographer Frank Barrera has done a tremendous job of making the movie feel more expensive than it is. This is also helped by filming on location instead of using sets of CGI, which creates an immersiveness that makes the film more effective. The performances by all the cast members added to that experience of building the world of the story, which is a testament to Truglio’s talent as a director.
As mentioned earlier, the film borrows many elements from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and Truglio’s love and passion for horror shine through. However, it does feel like something is lacking. Outpost makes a bold choice to only show us glimpses of Kate’s past life as a victim and nothing else. This makes it hard for the audience to connect with her, which becomes a problem as we spend most of the film with her. It would’ve been nice if we had the chance to see who Kate was before the incident, as it would’ve given us something to relate with. Outpost wants us to empathize with its protagonist and definitely succeeds in that but offers nothing more.
The film is also highly predictable; you can piece together the film’s ending before you even get there. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does lose its sense of intrigue and mystery, which in a film like this is all it has going for. The climax of Outpost goes full-on horror and is probably the best part of the movie, but the film does make you work for it before giving you any of that. The pacing of the film could’ve been better as there are parts of the film that go on for longer than they need to be.
Unfortunately, Outpost has its own “Sixth Sense” gimmick. This isn’t a knock on the film’s writing but more so on the entire schtick that we’ve seen countless times in films like Joker, The Others, and Donnie Darko. We see Kate begin to hallucinate her interactions with various men throughout the film that are filmed like actual events, and these moments happen one too many times that when the “twist” happens, you’ve already seen it coming.
As flawed as Outpost is, it’s certainly one of the better horror movies out there. This trend of comedic actors transitioning into horror filmmakers that’s been happening recently with Jordan Peele, Zach Cregger, and now Joe Lo Truglio has been such a fascinating thing to witness. Outpost proves that Turglio does indeed have talent, but it’s simply not as polished as his peers – and that’s perfectly fine. In the Nightmare on Film Street Podcast, Truglio mentioned that his next project would be a creature feature, which we can all look forward to.
In conclusion, Joe Lo Truglio’s directorial debut, “Outpost,” is a wonderful achievement that showcases his multifaceted talents beyond acting. With his background in comedy, he masterfully navigates the delicate balance between humor and heart, creating a film that is not only uproariously funny but also profoundly moving. Lo Truglio’s keen eye for detail and his ability to bring out brilliant performances from his cast reveal a promising career behind the camera.
Outpost is truly a testament to his creative vision and directorial prowess. While not perfect, it does offer audiences a fresh perspective on the world of indie filmmaking. The film’s witty script, endearing characters, and breathtaking cinematography make it a standout addition to this year’s list of horror films.