Outpost II: Black Sun REVIEW
If only the Nazis had developed lip-balm technology.
Release Date: 27 August 2012
2012 | 15 | 97 minutes | £15.99 (DVD)/£19.99 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Director: Steve Barker
Cast:Catherine Steadman, Richard Coyle, Daniel Caltagirone, Ali Craig, Nick Nevern
British Nazi-zombie horror Outpost might seem like an unlikely film to spawn a franchise, but while it was no Saw, the low-budget 2009 flick did good enough numbers to warrant two follow-ups (shooting on a prequel began in April).
Outpost was such a tightly focused, economical exercise (in a nutshell: mercenaries go to bunker in Eastern Europe, find Nazi zombies, get killed) that you’d be forgiven for wondering where else the story can go. That’s especially true since it established that the zombies are a. not that numerous b. drama-sappingly unkillable c. only able to operate close to the machine that animates them. Black Sun comes up with decent fixes for all these issues, opening things out in all sorts of new directions in the process.
This second instalment sees a Nazi hunter (Catherine Steadman) and a rogue physicist (Richard Coyle, here sporting an American accent) teaming up with a bunch of all-British NATO grunts. Pleasingly, the expansive approach continues even once our heroes finally arrive at the bunker, which is the point where you might fear we’re in for a straight retread of the first film. What follows is rather like finding out that the Haunted House has a whole extra wing…
The loss of some of the pleasures of discovery (inevitable in a sequel) is offset by an increase in scale – bigger canvas, bigger battles – and the look of the film belies its meagre budget. Even the homogenous nature of the stab-happy zombies is addressed by the introduction of a weird, cackling hag who, in the most impressively nasty sequence, does ‘orrible things with a hypodermic.
Sadly, none of the characters are particularly interesting (certainly none is quite as memorable as Richard Brake’s laconic American mercenary from the first film), there are a few too many cheesy devices (the discovery of a handy map with the bunker’s location circled in red amongst the possessions of a superannuated war criminal inspires titters), and the script teeters on the brink of bathos whenever it strives for profundity. Plus, the manner in which a returning character saves the day is so preposterous that it feels like a step too far even for a film about undead stormtroopers! That all said, this is a solid second entry in a franchise which is staking a claim to be the film series which finally does something interesting with Nazi zombies.
Five bits of Making Of stuff (totaling 35 minutes) covering subjects such as the casting and characters, the zombies, and the film’s “look and feel”.
Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman
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