Folk horror meets found footage in They’re Outside, a solid U.K. fear-fare effort from codirectors Sam Casserly and Airell Anthony Hayles.
Max Spencer (Tom Wheatley) plays psychologist on his YouTube channel, despite his qualifications being questionable. He sets a 10-day goal to cure agoraphobic Sarah Sanders (Chrissy Randall) and get her to go outside of her home for the first time in a few years. Sarah’s fear of the outdoors stems from the death of her daughter, who she believes was taken by Green Eyes, a local, woods-dwelling supernatural legend said to haunt people by degrees before leading them to their demise. Max is a hardcore skeptic who refuses to listen to anything having to do with Green Eyes, despite his cameraperson/girlfriend Nicole (Nicole Miners) and Sarah’s friend Penny Arnold (genre veteran Emily Booth of Event Horizon and Grindhouse in a delightful supporting role) pleading with him to at least consider Sarah’s viewpoint. Sarah isn’t as easy a case to crack as Max had hoped, and tensions rise as door knocks that only certain people can hear and elevating hints of strangeness occur.
Casserly and Hayles (the latter of whom wrote the screenplay) deliver an engaging chiller that builds tension between the characters — Max is an egotistical know-it-all who also has a reputation as a philanderer; Sarah is instantly rude to Nicole as she cozies up to Max — as it slowly unravels its otherworldly elements, leading to a third act that brings the proceedings to a satisfying end. Max’s character is very difficult to like, even when a past trauma is introduced later on in the film, and Wheatley plays Max marvelously. Randall is also fine as a woman who is both anguished and manipulative. Miners gives a wonderful, believable turn as Nicole, and Booth shines with some nice comic relief. Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser; The Void; Book of Monsters) provides an amusing performance in a cameo as a folklore academic.
The dialogue is believable, the cinematography perfectly suited for the film’s format (with a minimum of shaky camera shots, for those like yours truly who prefer more static camerawork), the atmosphere is eerie, and the direction from Casserly and Hayles boasts verve and energy. They’re Outside is an intriguing offering that fans of folk horror should find well worth seeking out.
They’re Outside screened as part of Arrow Video FrightFest, which ran August 28th –31st.