Friday, May 13, 2022

Out There


Out There
Sam Irvin

It’s 1995 and X-Files is riding high in popular culture and along with it, a wave of public interest in UFOs and the supernatural. Lots of ancillary media tapped into that interest (I know the first one to spring to your mind, Baywatch Nights season 2, right?). Aliens and conspiracies were a hot property, and the culture was ripe for some satire or in the case of Out There, some mild teasing. I wasn’t expecting much, but it did manage to offer more than I expected from a near forgotten TV movie made for Showtime.

Delbert Mosely (Billy Campbell) is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who is haunted by his most famous photo, a child falling to their death. While out he buys an old camera only to discover that it has photos of two missing men and what appears to be an alien abduction. As he begins to investigate, he encounters what may be a conspiracy to cover up and actual alien abduction or just a bunch of confused weirdos who mistook a movie set for the real thing.

"Hi there, I'm Rugged McWhiteguy."

I don’t watch a lot of comedies mainly because the risk/reward is too high. A bad horror movie almost always has at least one thing notable about, but a bad comedy is pure agony. Out There surprised me by genuinely funny at times and I appreciated its willingness to go as silly as it did. The attempt to give the film a more serious tone at time never works as well as the comedy, it’s far too maudlin and uninteresting in the face of an otherwise lighthearted film.

I think the most interesting element of the film is its conspiracy plot, the filmmakers decided to actually build a conspiracy with twists and turns, false fronts, and secret players. It plays well, I did not know which way the film was going to fall on an alien abduction being real of fake. The general tone of the films feels like a very goofy romantic comedy and that works well to lower the guard of the viewer to accept what they are seeing. It’s not genius plotting but it’s nimble enough to keep the viewer engaged and more than I expected from something a light as this.


Julie Brown is the best reason to watch anything.

Another surprise Out There has in store is a number of notable cameos, Julie Brown, Bobcat Goldthwait, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Kenney, P.J. Soles, and June Lockhart among others. Thornton, makes the most of his short screen time with a great scenery chewing inmate and I will always take Julie Brown mixing it up with aliens (I really need to do an Earth Girls are Easy (1989) review).

Out There was a pleasant surprise, it’s genuinely funny at times, it actually makes the effort to craft and alien conspiracy, and it has a lot of talent on screen.  It isn’t going to reshape how you see cinema or anything but it is a welcome distraction during some pretty dark times.

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