It’s already been two years since the release of Stephen King’s The Outsider which follows a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy. When the mutilated body of 11-year-old Frankie Peterson is discovered in the Georgia woods, police detective Ralph Anderson sets out to investigate with a fire in his belly. All signs quickly point to a local man Terry Maitland; a popular high school teacher, Little League coach, doting husband and father.
While the case appears ironclad, Ralph is baffled by the emergence of damning contradictory evidence that places his suspect in a neighboring city at the time of the murder; giving the impression that Terry Maitland was in two places at once. That’s impossible though, right? The mysterious set of circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, a seasoned cop still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney, whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the seemingly unexplainable. But will he be able to accept what she uncovers?
Sounds great, right? Nothing game changing. Just a nice dark thriller with plenty of flawed characters, gritty connecting storylines and plenty of violence to enjoy during a lazy day. Even so, I was a bit hesitant, as I typically am with King’s work.
That maybe an unpopular opinion to have as a horror fan. I don’t know what it is. Even as I reside in my temporary home, a literal cabin in the woods less than an hour from where King himself lives in Maine, listening to his latest work If It Bleeds on audiobook I can’t hype myself up enough to get anything resembling goosebumps. Despite my better judgment I decided to bite the bullet and give it a read anyway, intrigued by its Nordic noire-esqe summary (specifically that of Samuel Bjork) I’ve always favored. As usual it had a fantastic start only to stumble over itself with an ending best summed up as anticlimactic; no doubt in part to all the moving parts, that often results in a lengthy read and the apparent compulsion to include every intricate detail, once again proving that a super lengthy and outlandish story doesn’t always make it a good one.
Despite his tremendous talent, somehow King’s stories have always (at least for me) presented better better on the screen. One shining example being The Outsider series; possibly the best adaption of his work since Christine. A pleasant blend of Harlan Coben’s The Stranger with The X Files, this incredible ride of a show has the kind of hook and baleful bit of directorial brilliance to enchant audiences instantly; making it a little more than irresistible to the King fans and critic alike. Once I became familiar with the show’s moody rhythm I was obsessed, devouring the 10 one hour episodes in a meager day and a half.
With no shortage of terrifying moments, The Outsider harbors a powerful prose complemented by a terrific cast (including a potently career-defining performance by Cynthia Erivo) that leaves behind a dread that lingers like a bad taste in your mouth. Or, more appropriately in this case, it’s like awakening to the most vicious hangover you’ve ever had. Consistently sharp, gorgeous, and grotesque The Outsider is a true hidden gem that evokes the kind of stomach-plummeting sensation you get when you’ve just finished a really good show.
Own The Outsider: The Complete First Season on Digital, Blu-Ray, and DVD now. The home video release features a never before seen featurette, “EL CUCO. THE BABY YAGA. THE OUTSIDER”, which dives deep into the real-world origins and supernatural abilities of the creature of the series with compelling insights from the creators and cast.
WICKED RATING: 8/10