Out There (2012) – By Cary Conley

Robert (Conor Marren) wakes up in the midst of the woods, blood oozing from an apparent head wound. The only problem is that Robert can’t remember how he came to be in the woods nor how he sustained the wound. As he wanders about the forest, snippets of memory come back to him. These brief memories, mostly of his girlfriend, Jane (Emma Eliza Regan) serve as tender moments: Robert giving Jane a necklace during a picnic; Robert kissing Jane’s foot as she relaxes in the tub; Jane telling Robert she is pregnant and his happy reaction to the news. But the deeper Robert wanders into the forest, the darker the memories become: no phone line in the isolated cabin the two lovers share; the nervous drive down a deserted country lane; and the accident that occurs on that country lane. By this time, Robert has found the little gravel road that winds through the woods and sprints until he comes upon his car smashed against a tree. As Robert sees his car, the final memories of the tragic episode come flooding back full throttle. It is this twist ending, this little bit of irony, that provides a satisfying end to this 16-minute short from the creator of Walt.

Just as Walt ends with a fantastic twist, filmmaker Randal Plunkett provides another fantastic end for this film as well. Plunkett, who wrote, directed, produced, and edited Out There, has created another superb film that blends genres in a way that creates surprises for the audience. Much as Walt began as a sweet story between a lonely old man and a lonelier little boy and turned into something quite monstrous, Out There begins as somewhat of a mediation about memories before it, too, turns south, providing not one but two surprising shocks towards the end while at the same time deftly manipulating the viewers’ emotions and creating a complete about-face with those emotions concerning Robert. It is the shock we receive as we realize the true nature of Robert compounded by the extremely brief final shot that supplies us with complete satisfaction as the film ends.

Plunkett is a gifted storyteller with a slight penchant for the macabre as well as a gifted director who can expertly manipulate the emotions of the audience. He has also seen fit to surround himself with a stellar cast and crew, most notably Conor Marren who must carry the film almost singlehandedly, and does an excellent job doing so. Regan, as Jane, also does a fine job in her few brief scenes, allowing the audience to develop sympathy for the character which is all the more devastating as the final act unfolds. The score, by Darius McGann, is subtle when it needs to be, creating just the right amount of tension, before increasing to an up-tempo beat during one harrowing scene that occurs in a weird shack Robert happens upon during his wanderings. The cinematography is also a high point, as it was in Walt, with Stefano Battarola again helming the camera. There are a few brief makeup effects as well and they are disturbingly realistic without being stomach-churning, which were created by Zsanett Vegh.

Overall, Out There is a satisfying little horror film that contains a couple of nice surprises for the audience. Plunkett and his team of filmmakers have done it again. I look forward to seeing more from this talented group very soon. Out There has just been completed and remains unreleased, but for more information about the film, including the trailer, go to the production company’s web page at http://www.dunsanyproductions.com/out-there.