TV review: Outcast (3 stars)

Demonic horror from Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead

TV review: Outcast

Demons are infesting the television schedules. First Constantine, Lucifer and South of Hell but Outcast is the scariest yet. Based on the comic series by Robert Kirkman, creator of TV megahit The Walking Dead, it's a seriously creepy study of demonic possession. Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) has been plagued by malevolent spirits his entire life, teaming up with avenging Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) to fight back against the evil lurking in small town America.

The opening episode crawls with disturbing imagery as Barnes and Anderson try to help young Joshua (Gabriel Bateman) a growling, contorting devil child. The final exorcism sequence is a dynamic, unnerving assault on the senses. The second episode drops in pace, after such an explosive opener, as layers of backstory are revealed when we delve into Barnes' horrific childhood. There's a foreboding overarching story, as they face down a rising tide of darkness, before it settles into its 'demon of the week' format as cribbed from The X-Files (episode three's cop turned violent sexual predator is particularly nasty). There are also some intriguing subplots; there's definitely something weird going on with the local sheriff (House of Cards' Reg E Cathey) while a face from the past troubles Kyle's sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt).

Fugit's character is purposefully dour and downbeat but Glenister shines in full on fire and brimstone mode (this could be the show that finally breaks him the US). Outcast doesn't pull any punches. A shadowy mix of grotesque horror and damaged characters, the line between the supernatural, madness, addiction and abuse kept deliberately fuzzy. It's less immediate and requires more commitment than Kirkman's other monster hit. Humans verses zombies was an easy sell whereas Outcast is more complex and subtle. And hopefully this solid groundwork will build and build into something even more terrifying.

Outcast premieres on FOX, Thu 28 Jan, 9pm.


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