Game of Thrones fans might know Kate Dickie (pictured) as a mother who doesn’t have a grasp on how long you’re supposed to breastfeed. But she’s so much more than that, as anyone who’s seen the Scottish thriller Red Road can attest. And in Outcast, she is to female magic users what Gandalf is to dude magic users. I shall henceforth name all my female magic users after her character in Outcast.
Outcast is a supernatural thriller from 2010. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s a horror movie. Not your usual horror movie, to be sure. It’s Scottish, drenched in the bleak grey of Scottish weather, lore, and low rent housing. It’s got a great cast, most notably Dickie as the druidic version of Alice from Martin Scorcese’s 1974 movie, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Dickie’s character is on the run from what we assume is an abusive husband. Only this abusive husband can be deterred by blood glyphs on the walls. The cast also includes James Nesbitt as an Irishman out of his element in Scotland, a nuance that will be lost on a lot of us Yanks, along with the piker vs. gypsy subtext. But you can’t deny Nesbitt’s appeal as a slightly confused magician. He certainly looks the part. There’s a thin line between “wizard” and “homeless”. Together, Dickie and Nesbitt are the Sarah Connor and Arnold of celtic Terminator plots.
This is ultimately a movie about a custody battle, but with spells. And I love the way magic is portrayed here. Grimy, unpleasant, painful, requiring clean up afterwards, and with rules beyond human ken. Real magic means that when someone tells you to eat bony roasted pigeon flesh, you don’t ask what for. As Nesbitt says during the obligatory shot from The Shining — you know, with the camera look up from underneath as he leans his head against a door and roars at the person on the other side — “Them’s the fucking terms!”
You’ve also got some young lovers and it’s such a relief that they’re not awful, which would have been the case if this were an American horror movie. However, as with most horror movies that have the courage of their convictions, Outcast will get a bit ridiculous before it’s over. As Christopher Lee would have told you while prancing merrily toward the end of the original Wicker Man, “Them’s the fucking terms”.
Outcast is on Netflix instant view.