Described as 'Blair Witch meets the Wicker Man' They're Outside witnesses a celebrity psychologist drawn into supernatural events while filming a documentary about an agoraphobic woman.
The combination of folklore and found footage had me intrigued enough to grab a ticket to when this aired at the Arrow Video Virtual edition of FrightFest 2020.
They’re Outside offers up a brief introductory preamble presented by folklore professor Richard Hill (Hellraiser’s Nicholas Vince), and is confusingly presented as Penny's (Emily Booth) unfinished documentary about an unaired YouTube video.
The bulk of the film consists of YouTube psychologist Max Spencer (Tom Wheatley) hosting his show “Psychology – Inside/Out,” where he attempts to get an extremely agoraphobic woman, Sarah (Chrissy Randall), to leave her home within 10 days. However, Spencer’s experiment soon becomes increasingly intertwined with a creepy local legend named Green Eyes; An entity that Sarah believes took her child to the world beyond the veil, and will return for her.
More impatient audiences may feel frustration at the dialogue-dense approach, but the strength of the acting and characters generally allows it to function as an effective, and raw character-driven piece - that had me invested in the characters throughout the film.
Tom Wheatley is effortlessly convincing as the arrogant YouTuber Max, yet as a character he’s nuanced enough to reveal depth as the film progresses, leading the audience to be sympathetic to an initially unlikeable character.
Chrissy Randall is brilliant as the traumatised, agoraphobic Sarah at the centre of the story. Randall's emotionally fraught exchanges opposite Wheatley - and her distain for his girlfriend - Nicole (Nicole Miners) has you questioning her motivations for bringing Max into the middle of nowhere.
Genre veteran Emily Booth is also an entertaining charmer and mild comic relief as Penny, a bohemian pal of Sarah’s. Her character is warm and likeable although if I am honest, the film would have been better served by losing her own subplot that is highlighted at the start of the film.
The films low budget lends itself well to the found footage subgenre - and in particular the YouTube format - means you will easily forgive the changing quality of the cinematography and sound.
The atmosphere isn’t as thick and potent as you might hope for; some added ambient sound and further attention on the CCTV footage in the third act would have turned the creep factor into a more frightening horror. Without ruining any key themes, the film was reminiscent of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.
More compelling as a well-acted drama than a straight horror, They’re Outside may not be truly frightening but it was an intriguing watch for those who enjoy folklore inspired horror.