Outcast Review

Outcast Review: Cinemax's Exorcism Drama Possessed of Potential, at Least

grade_C+Aw, hell. Since Cinemax’s new supernatural drama, Outcast, is based on The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s comic-book series of the same name, I had great expectations going into the premiere (June 3, 10/9c, and already streaming). Why wouldn’t I? I love The Walking Dead and all things scary, and am a big fan of Patrick Fugit, who stars as Kyle Barnes, a tortured soul bedeviled by demons since he was a kid.

Unfortunately, I only liked rather than loved the first episode. Fugit is certainly solid as our haunted hero, a good guy hiding out in his hometown of Rome, W.Va., after battling not only the demon that possessed his mother when he was a boy but also the one that more recently inhabited his (now-estranged) wife. And the hour is stylishly directed by Adam Wingard (V/H/S). But there just isn’t much here that we — or at least I — haven’t seen before.

After being dragged out of hibernation by his adoptive sister, Megan (Boardwalk Empire alumna Wrenn Schmidt), who owes him a great deal for undisclosed reasons, Kyle seeks out old acquaintance Reverend Anderson (Prey‘s Philip Glenister) — and is drawn into the preacher’s investigation of the possessions that have become almost commonplace in Rome. The latest victim, young Joshua, spooks Kyle when the demon within reveals details of Kyle’s abuse at the hands of his possessed mother. The devils have been looking for him, the entity adds. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the creepy-kid thing works. Then again, doesn’t it always?)

Outcast ReviewIn the end, it turns out that Kyle — specifically, his blood — is better at exorcising demons than even holy water. However, before the devil departs Joshua, it warns that “the Great Merge cannot be stopped.” Which, of course, leaves Kyle with more questions than he’d hoped to answer by getting involved in the first place.

It also leaves us with a fine tease. So, although Episode 1 doesn’t break a lot of new ground for the genre — maybe, having watched everything from The Exorcist to The Last Exorcism, I’m jaded? — it does at least suggest that a compelling mythology will be revealed over time.

The TVLine Bottom Line: Neither a devil of a good time nor an “exorcise” in futility, Outcast really deserves a grade of “I” for incomplete.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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11 Comments
  1. Annie Sisk says:

    First TVLine review of a new show that I disagree with! I loved the Outcast pilot. It’s atmospheric without being overly moody. The characters are fascinating – especially Kyle and his neighbor. Also, I think it’s absolutely a fresh take on the whole “demon possession” trope. (Like you, I’ve seen ’em all.) This one was a welcome change-up due to the mass-possession angle, the ruined hero in Kyle, the fact that the hero is *not* affiliated with any religious order, and the whole Southern Gothic ambience, which gives it a new kind of chill, the discomfort of the unfamiliar. I can’t wait to see the rest of it.

  2. AngelWasHere says:

    TVline seems to have something against these type of shows. Maybe they should stop reviewing them. I haven’t seen it, but I’ll probably like way better than the reviewer here. Well at least this got a better grade than Damien unfairly got.

  3. Shaun says:

    This was a good pilot dammit!

  4. Charlie Mason says:

    I did admit upfront that I could be jaded. I’ve watched every exorcism movie since ‘The Exorcist.’ And I am hoping I will dig the show more as time goes on. I mean, with Grace Zabriskie coming on, how could I — or anyone — not, right?

    • Annie Sisk says:

      I think it’s a mistake to compare an hour-long (I think? right?) pilot with a two-hour movie, though. They’re each bound by completely different sets of expectations and story-telling limitations. It’s pretty clear there’s a whole host (hee) of complexities and plot points to come, both as the story progresses in the present-set arc and as the backstory of Kyle’s experiences is revealed.

  5. Sarah96 says:

    Really bad review of an amazing pilot with a great main lead, good internal conflicts and story, really scary and creepy parts and a very intense opening. This pilot just left me wanting more. Seems like Tvline when it comes to this kind of tv shows they always judge by the”we-have-seen-this-before” formula which happens, at times, in ALL tv shows. This one has things that I’ve never seen before and the opening will get many people hooked in watching and dreading what will happen next. Go see it :)

  6. CBD says:

    I hate these reviews . First thing . You are comparing a TV show to a 2 hour movie . Things happen faster in a movie . That is what is great about serial TV . You can actually tell a story . Are some episodes going to be better than others ? Yes definitely . Have some patience . I know it’s hard in this show me NOW world . Same could be said for the people who say the walking dead gets bogged down mid season . Come on people they can’t be all break neck speed and bodies dropping every show . They would all be dead within two episodes .

  7. Wasn’t planning to watch this (Kirkman lost me with the awful “FTWD), but when I saw this was set in West Virginia, I changed my mind. After seeing Kentucky get all the good Appalachian shows (Justified, Outsiders), I am pleased that my home state is getting a little attention, albeit Satanic in nature.

  8. yurina says:

    The comic was better. The pilot was too concerned with showing off it’s “maturity”… of which it had none.

  9. bravekami says:

    Not a single criticism from me.

    It starts off so dark and twisted. The plot is interesting and I look forward to more.

    There is a lot of supernatural horror packed into the first episode, so I really look forward to see where this story goes.