More than two years after its premiere at FrightFest in London, Quinn Lashers finds home invasion shockers HE’S OUT THERE to late fame through Netflix. We will reveal in our criticism whether this is justified.
OT: He’s Out There (USA/CAN 2018)
Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) and her two daughters Kayla (Anna Pniowsky) and Maddie (Abigail Pniowsky) want to spend a nice weekend in a remote holiday home. However, the initial idyll is disturbed by dark omens. After the children go on a trip to the forest, little Maddie suddenly gets a fever and can hardly breathe. Laura is horrified when she finds the cause: a piece of paper with a message that was in Maddie’s esophagus! A masked troublemaker begins to make his presence known from outside. The family wants to escape, but the car is tampered with. Back at the house, Laura and the children wait for her husband and father Shawn (Justin Bruening). But no one seems to be safe from the masked psychopath…
What is successful on Netflix and what is not can also be controlled to a certain extent by the streaming giant itself. If paying customers have been watching Adam Sandler films for years, it’s no wonder if the VOD giant extended the exclusive deal with the Hollywood star. It also goes without saying that “The Irishman” promises prestige thanks to the name Martin Scorsese. And the who’s who of Hollywood is not asked for various Netflix originals just to be nice, but because stars like Chris Hemsworth and Mark Wahlberg and Ryan Reynolds are crowd pullers. In short: Netflix and the like calculate their successes no less meticulously than any standard film studio that specializes in mass-market feature films. At the same time, it sometimes happens that productions that were originally barely noticed experience a second spring thanks to Netflix (and the streaming model “Pay a price every month and then watch as many films as you want!”). This recently happened in the case of Christian Alvart’s psychological thriller “Abschnitt”, which failed at the box office and has been at the top of the streaming charts for weeks. The Canadian-American home invasion horror film “He’s Out There” is also such a candidate. It has been available on Netflix since the beginning of the week – and has been consistently among the provider’s most streamed films ever since.
Eerie noises portend disaster…
Since “He’s Out There” was presented at London’s FrightFest in the summer of 2018, but did not find its way into cinemas in the world’s major film nations, but instead directly on DVD and Blu-ray, the work of the film is like no other film to this day The director responsible for it, Quinn Lasher, remains largely unknown. And because Netflix is now releasing new original productions almost every week, viewing them in terms of quality is like reaching into a grab bag (there could just as easily be trash in there as something really great!), it’s not at all reprehensible, even in the case of “He’s Out There” at first assume that we are dealing with a brand new Netflix horror work. You could have watched the film for over two years in the competition with the smiling arrow – but be that as it may: now, all of a sudden, numerous (USA) genre lovers are interested in a film whose innovative value is low, but whose creators are can build up solid tension over a long period of time using relatively simple means. To do this, he first uses the basic ingredients of (almost) every home invasion shocker: a handful of characters (in this case a mother and two children), a secluded place in the middle of nowhere and a sinister threat that makes this idyll its own tried to do – so everything is as usual.
“Now, all of a sudden, numerous (USA) genre lovers are interested in a film whose innovative value is low, but whose maker can create solid suspense using relatively simple means.”
No, it’s not particularly innovative. On the contrary: when it is announced early on that the husband and father’s arrival will be a few hours late, a scary-looking neighbor tells Laura about the holiday home’s past without being asked and the camera long before any masked intruder is even seen, it is always ominous Drives into the thicket of the nearby forest or films the house from a voyeur’s perspective through the branches, screenwriter Mike Scannell relatively unabashedly goes through the “How do I direct a home invasion horror film?” textbook and then tackles a set piece the next. But it’s not for nothing that all of these genre tropes have established themselves as such – it’s all very effective. Especially when the “The Dark and the Wicked” producer then adds a few interesting new motifs to his story. For example, the intruder reveals himself here with tea and cupcakes (!), uses a well-known children’s book allegorically to announce his actions and relies exclusively on psychological terror on his chosen victims for a very long time before he proves that he is is also physically prepared to commit various outrages.
Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) has to deal with a masked killer…
It’s only a third of the way through the film that we even get to see the masked adversary – and if all of the marketing didn’t focus on the killer’s nasty face, “He’s Out There” would be even more effective because you don’t know anything for over half an hour , who or what is currently hunting the mother and her daughters. Another half hour passes before the villain, who often just stands motionless in the dark, makes creepy noises and delivers shocking messages and images, becomes violent at all. Unfortunately, the beginning of the gradual drop in tension coincides exactly with the moment in which the psychopath reveals his existence as a killer – everything that follows is once again standard fare, consisting of a mix of attempted escape, being in the house together. Holing up and realizing that you’re pretty lonely out here, without a smartphone or a working phone line. Nevertheless, Mike Scannell skillfully avoids one or two plausibility pitfalls that one often encounters in the genre. Both the killer and the protagonist don’t act stupid in order to outwit the other. In addition, leading actress Yvonne Strahovski succeeds (“Predator – Upgrade”) credibly convey the fear of strangers and the associated concern for the children to the outside world.
“Unfortunately, the beginning of the gradual drop in tension coincides exactly with the moment in which the psychopath reveals his existence as a killer – everything that follows is once again standard fare.”
Meanwhile, the attempt to give the psycho killer motivation for his actions isn’t quite as successful. In what is probably the most striking scene in “He’s Out There,” which Netflix also uses to illustrate the film on its platform, we see the intruder sitting on a bed and philosophizing about his motives. We don’t want to reveal these at this point because we don’t want to take away the fun of self-discovery. But because we ourselves didn’t understand them. The children’s book, the wooden dolls used by the killer and a brief insight into his past are probably taken together to create something like a model psychopath. Unfortunately, none of this comes together in a plausible way – a non-motivation like that of “The Strangers” intruders would have been much more effective.
Conclusion: “He’s Out There” is a routinely staged home invasion shocker with some strong, some less strong and some really weak scenes, which primarily result from the lame resolution.
“He’s Out There” is now available to stream on Netflix and is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.