Outpost: Black Sun

Outpost: Black Sun

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Made four years ago and set in the Thirties, Outpost introduced viewers to a secret Nazi experiment in creating zombie super-soldiers. Where the Reich failed, time marched on, and we return to the story in the present day. Lena (Catherine Steadman) is the daughter of dedicated Nazi-hunters, determined to finish their work. Wallace (Richard Coyle) is a physicist and adventurer intrigued by stories of a secret Nazi power source, the Black Sun. Together they go looking for trouble - and find it.

So far, so predictable. This film doesn't goose-step with alacrity and it delivers, in action terms, pretty much what you'd expect - but unlike its predecessor, which ran short on ideas after the conflict started, it has an extensive backstory that provides its characters with complex motivation. Combined with more elaborate sets and an investment in character that extends to those who are essentially just cannon fodder, and it's a fairly entertaining watch.

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The film's biggest asset is Steadman, who approaches her character in a much more rounded way that we are used to seeing in films of this sort. Lena's lack of training and her youthful vulnerability make her an interesting protagonist in the middle of a militry power struggle, and she rises to the challenge without overstepping the bounds of believability - because she still seems scared, it's easier to share that feeling. Alongside her, a taciturn Coyle is not at his best, but there are some great performances from the supporting cast, with the group of squaddies they encounter exhibiting great chemistry as a unit and a good line in no-nonsense banter.

The downside of this is that the Nazis, old and dusty as they are, never manage to be equally charismatic and so don't seem as scary as they should; indeed, only a couple of them are afforded individual personality. Given the title and central conceit, it would have been nice to see something more here about the Nazi interest in the occult and the original myth of the black sun shining at the centre of the Earth, but the opportunity is missed. Instead we rely on the lingering impact of Nazi iconography and an elaborate machine that looks like, well, quite a few other elaborate machines we've seen in similar tales. There's a fair dose of gore and some justified running round the corridors but not quite as much horror as viewers might have hoped for, and with tongue intermittently in cheek, it never captures the creepiness of the original.

What this film does well is, perhaps surprisingly, to comment on modern warfare - the desolate landscapes, the empty villages, the small units of soldiers to whom everyone is a potential enemy. The darkness at Outpost 2's heart never quite lives up to this existential horror. Its zombie Nazis are cartoon figures in an age that has seen things still bleaker. In the end, we need those moments of comedy, and the cheesy final scenes, to remind us why we're watching.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2012
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Outpost: Black Sun packshot
The daughter of a Nazi hunter is looking for revenge and stumbles across an undead Nazi army.
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