Writers often say that mystery is the trickiest genre to get right as you need to present a story that is intriguing but ties together neatly. And right now, a brand new mystery film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is getting loads of very positive reviews.
Outlier is the directorial debut of Nate Strayer, and it is co-written by Nate Strayer and Jona Doug. The film follows a woman called Olivia. Olivia is trapped in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, James. This relationship leaves Olivia very on edge as she is always worried about James reacting with violence.
When James aggressively grabs Olivia at a gas station, a man called Thomas intervenes. He takes Olivia to his cabin, promising to help her get back on her feet. But Olivia quickly realizes that Thomas has his own issues, and his increasingly controlling behaviors suggest that Olivia’s life might be about to get a whole lot worse, forcing Olivia to work out Thomas’ big secret.
The film was made during the COVID-19 lockdown, and because of this, it features lots of small spaces and a small cast as Nate Strayer shot the film entirely in his home or in cabins owned by his family. On top of this, the whole crew was quarantined in the house for 40 days to make the movie possible. However, the film uses this to its advantage, using the environment to help ramp up the tension and give the story a chillingly realistic edge.
When the film hit streaming on November 2nd, it quickly got lots of good reviews from critics. Many pointed out that the film is a fantastic directorial debut that should lead to Nate Strayer getting the chance to direct future, higher-budget films. Many reviews praised the acting, especially Jessica Denton’s performance as Olivia, noting that she gave a very realistic portrayal of trauma and strength while making the character extremely relatable. Other reviews draw attention to Thomas Cheslek’s performance as Thomas, especially how he makes the character feel worrying and wrong without ever becoming cheesy or over the top.
However, viewers have been less kind to the film, and it only has a 67% audience score. Many user reviews point out that the film has a few internal logic issues and that while the mystery is gripping, it is a little too obvious at points. Others argue that the film’s low budget is also overly obvious and that a slightly higher budget or filming outside of the pandemic might have helped it look better.
Outlier is a fascinating film due to its unusual production. However, despite this, it offers an intriguing story about the problems with obsession, technology, and power dynamics, making it a must-watch for mystery fans looking for a new film.