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In OUTCAST, mother and her son live a nomadic life, running from something mysterious, stalked by something sinister. When the duo arrives in yet another new town, and just as the young man starts making friends, bodies start turning up mutilated in alleyways and mother and son are forced to reckon with the forces that haunt, and the beast that hunts, them in this tale of magic and horror.
The story of OUTCAST, available on video-on-demand September 30 on Time Warner, Comcast and Brighthouse, follows Mary (Kate Dickie) and her teen son Fergal (Niall Bruton) as they attempt to settle down anonymously in new territory, Edinburgh, Scotland, to be precise. Protective Mary has created an insular world for Fergal, understanding the harm that exists out in an uncontrollable society. The nefarious hunter tracking the pair is Cathal, played by James Nesbitt. A shared past comes into play as dark magic brews and a bloodthirsty beast paints the streets red.
OUTCAST was the brainchild of director Colm McCarthy and his (do-writer) brother Tom. An element of inspiration for the film was drawn from reality. Shares Colm, “I suppose the thing is, there are aspects of lots of the characters that are autobiographical or based on people very close to me or my brother, but their behavior in the story is much more extreme than those associated with the actual people that they might be based on. They are heightened versions of real human beings. Or we’ve taken certain attributes of people we know and based an entire character around those certain character traits.”
Another influence on the script lies in Irish folklore. “Elements of the script are based on Irish mythology,” says Colm. “These were inspired by stories told to us both by our father, who’s a wonderful storyteller. As children, he would tell us mythological
tales of the ‘Sidhe’ and ‘Shape shifters’. We also did quite a lot of research into different beliefs, not just ancient Celtic myths, but beliefs and ideas from across the world, from cults, to witchcraft to modern organized religion. It was quite frightening to read about what some people believe in and what some people do.”
In the end, they created a new and original mythology on which to base their film. Shares Colm, “It’s something that we’ve come up with ourselves, but the research was hugely important and many different influences fed into it. I feel we’ve come up with something believable, with its own structure and rules.”
As for that aforementioned beast, the director intimates, “The idea that you can’t escape your destiny, that people walk these tragic paths without the possibility of escape is a big theme in OUTCAST. Lots of Irish mythology, Diarmuid, the Children of Lir, Cú Chulainn follow these line. But the Beast is more about the idea of what happens when you bottle up your sexuality and your masculinity as a teenager. In a way, the Beast is a metaphor for the consequences of that repression.”
Following suite with an approach adopted by many independent genre filmmakers these days, Colm chose 7’1” actor Ian Whyte over green screen and computers to flesh out his beastie. “We decided not to use CGI to create the Beast because I think the hardest thing to portray with CGI is human beings because we’re so familiar with the human being and the closer the creature is to human the harder it is to do. So it was quite important to me that the Beast was really there in front of the camera and in front of the audience.”
In the end, Colm’s love for genre fare, and fairytales, of all things, led him to this project. “I’ve grown to like work that’s rooted in the semi-fantastical world of magical realism. That was part of the appeal in making this film. It was to try and make a film that we wanted to see. All too often modern horror films rely on slash, guts and gore, whereas to me they should be more like adult fairytales. Fairytales used to be cautionary tales designed to frighten people into realizing the dangers that exist in life. OUTCAST is a story about the dangers of suppressing your masculinity and sexuality, how that suppression can ultimately lead to violence, rage and the emergence of an inner beast.”
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