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Outcast

Robert Kirkman's latest drama turns on the horror scenes and lays down the foundation of sustainable characters.

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A new series created by Robert Kirkman is a bit of a TV event.

The Walking Dead creator is revered by fans of the hit series, for having given ‘life’ to the undead now approaching its 7th season.

Another comic turned series Outcast now arrives, built around the world of exorcism. It centres on Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) a young man seeking answers to his conflicted childhood.

He returns to the small West Virginian town of Rome which is also where Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) resides. In the first episode the Reverend confronts Joshua, a young boy possessed by a demon after a plea from his mother.

The boy (Gabriel Bateman) is eerily disturbing, capable of extraordinary strength, violence and devious insight. This Reverend, who is no poster child for religion, has his work cut out.

Kyle Barnes, whose unkempt, unshaven appearance sees him getting about in t-shirt and what looks like pyjama pants, is drawn to the unholy battle.

“I came because…. I don’t really know,” Barnes tells Rev. Anderson.

While it’s not entirely clear what he is searching for, we are privy to various flashbacks that tell us he is the son of a mother possessed. What he endured physically and emotionally has scarred him, but also given him unique experience.

When he meets the boy -or whatever beast is living inside- the episode reaches its crescendo. At this point actors and special effects kick it up a notch and Outcast delivers what we expect of the horror genre.

Much of the episode works to establish the two leads, both as individuals and as a duo. In this regard it rises and falls between character work and horror scenes. I get the sense Kirkman is more keen to lay the foundations of interesting characters than a sugar-hit of scaring us.

Supporting characters include Wrenn Schmidt as child psychologist and adoptive sister Megan, Kate Lyn Shiel as Kyle’s ex Allison and the wonderful character actor Reg. E. Cathey as Police Chief Giles.

Directed by Adam Wingard, Outcast exercises, or possibly exorcises, plenty of potential.

Outcast premieres 8:30pm Saturday on FX.

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