A movie about Nazi zombies – why am I not more excited? The Outpost franchise started some years ago with a Ray Stevenson led action thriller about German WWII bastards looking for that war defining game-changer – but this isn’t Call of Duty. Outpost was fun, don’t get me wrong, but we’re now three films into a franchise that most horror fans didn’t even know existed, and that’s the disheartening vibe our most recent film embodies. Doing nothing to expand upon the idea of shambling undead German soldiers, Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz re-introduces the idea of Nazi zombies and does absolutely nothing worth noting. More tired franchise ideas and generic genre play with a dash of gooey, gory distractions – did you expect anything else?
During battle, a group of Russian Spetsnaz soldiers are taken captive by German forces looking to test their new breed of soldier. Thanks to past films we already knew the Nazis were building super soldiers in zombie form, but this newest entry explains how they go about it. Using a chamber that converts sane humans into babbling monsters, our Russian protagonists have to fight their way through a series of tests in order to live – tests meant for experimental evaluation. Can our heroes survive a horde of Nazi zombies and find freedom? Probably not – but there’s no harm in trying!
Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz fails at being a sequel with character, settling for indistinguishable horror thrills banking on an originally fun concept featuring loony undead goose-stepping. Where the original was written by Kieran Parker and Rae Brunton, it’s Parker who takes command as director for a script entirely written by Brunton – but the missing presence of franchise director Steve Barker provides a different kind of watch for our second sequel. Nazi zombies have had so many fun incarnations already, from Dead Snow to Frankenstein’s Army (zombies in my eyes) – hell, even the first Outpost – but Parker’s watch does nothing notable besides send Russian soldiers into battle with gauntlet style pacing. Been there, done that – and yes, I can say that about Nazi zombies.
Bryan Larkin plays one of the lone Spetsnaz soldiers in Dolokhov, fighting with every breathe to prevent becoming another Nazi test subject. An able actor with an action hero streak, Larkin does his best to keep us chomping at the bit for more zombie bashing, but without a connection to any other characters, invigorated moments lose any real value. Poor Ben Lambert is a perfect example, playing an American soldier being held in the same cage as Dolokhov. His only use? Explain that a ventilation system could permit their escape, then randomly die once Dolokhov has no more use for him. He tries to provide comic relief, and his personality varies the mood, but Brunton decides that a pointless death adheres to horror movie slaughter rules instead.
On levels of brutality, Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz succeeds in showing rotting zombies making yummy snacks out of Russian special forces. One by one these beasts come out of an elevator, as we anxiously anticipate each one of Dolokhov’s new challenges, but without a mesmerizing story or rejuvenated liveliness, expected violence only provides momentary excitement. Great horror movies are defined by fits of insanity that burn themselves into your mind, like Vegard’s dismemberment in Dead Snow, but Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz lacks these stand out moments. Kills only aid in advancing Dolokhov’s objectives, yet each one of his comrades die without being established as characters, creating nothing but a mass graves of bodies worth no remembrance.
Kieran Parker doesn’t necessarily create a loser in Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz – but it’s far too half-baked for a masterful watch. Soldiers are captured and an escape attempt unfolds, but without a true focus on breaking genre boundaries, we’re transported to a world we’ve seen twice over in the same franchise. A German commander does his best Hans Landa impression, prequel methodology attempts to introduce a background story on Outpost‘s Nazi zombie lore, and some skulls are cracked – but that’s all old news. Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz plays exactly like the third installment in an independent horror franchise would, and ends up being nothing more than a bloody afterthought.
Despite the addition of Russian special forces soldiers, the Outpost franchise is beginning to lose steam by falling into a dull state of Nazi zombie filled redundancy.