The new Cinemax show Outcast, from Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, is about as different as you can get from TWD. Set in the hamlet of Rome, West Virginia. this one is a slow, maudlin affair about demon possession.
We're Only Buggin'
It starts out creepy enough, with a little boy in his bedroom, fascinated by a bug crawling on the wall. What happens next is, shall we say, a bit of a shock:
So that just happened. But the gross part is when little Josh eagerly gobbles up the bug guts off the wall - now that's good eatin'! Something is clearly wrong with Josh, as he clumsily walks down the stairs to the kitchen. Seeing that there are, sadly, no bugs around to eat, he decides to munch on a bag of chips. His Mom storms into the kitchen, fresh from yelling at her daughter, only to see THIS!
Ouch! That'll leave a mark! Not to mention that Joshie then bites off his index finger in front of his Mother. Somebody please feed this kid! Mommy confides in the Reverend Anderson, because it seems that there are quite the number of possessions happening in Rome - must be something in the water, huh?
This leads us to the next scene and the introduction of our hero, Kyle Barnes. He is, how to put this, a HOT MESS. He is a recluse in his childhood home: no food, no running water, filth everywhere. Something REALLY, REALLY bad happened in his past, and we get hints piecemeal throughout the ep. Some of it involves his wife and child, but the bulk of it concerns his cray cray Mom, who appeared to be possessed herself and did THIS to Barnes when he was a kid:
Can you say, 'Soul sucking Demon'? Yes, I knew you could. So cray cray Mom is now in the nut hut, but poor Barnes bears the scars of the abuse. He's no longer with his wife and daughter either; the small town gossip is that he tried to hurt his daughter and the wife dumped him like a hot rock. So now Barnes is holed up in his childhood home, reliving all the craziness of his young, tortured life on a loop.
Help On The Way
He's awakened from his stupor by the insistent knocking of his step-sister Megan. Meg is worried about her step-bro, and is bound and determined to get him out of the house and buy him some food.
Barnes reluctantly agrees, and is forced to endure the typical small-town whispers and stink eye looks from the townsfolk in the store. It is there that he learns about little Josh, and this rocks him to the core. Deep down he knows that he should help Josh, but he is paralyzed by his despair and loneliness.
Meg takes Barnes home to have dinner with her Policeman husband and their daughter. It is here that we learn that Barnes kept Meg from harm in a big way when they were kids, but this isn't enough to stop Hubby from hating Barnes and poisoning his daughter's attitude towards him as well. Barnes bolts from the dinner date and walks home alone.
The Face of Evil
Barnes decides to meet with the Rev and help Josh however he can. So they go to the house and meet face to face with the boy.
Josh does his best Exorcist growl while telling Barnes that he is basically the demon that possessed Barnes' Mom, knowing things that only the Demon would know. Then THIS happened:
Soul Sucking Demon, part deux! Josh then proceeds to kick our heroes asses, throwing them all over the room and breaking the furniture in the process. And for good measure, he decides to show off:
Yeah, Josh floated to the ceiling - cool, right? I especially like the 'WTF?' look after! So what do they do now? The tried and true, 'The Power of Christ Compels You' stuff? Nope. Barnes decide to beat the sh*t out of the kid, trying to beat the devil - literally. Even though Josh is possessed, I had a really hard time watching an adult beating the holy hell (pardon the pun) out of a child. They were VERY close in crossing the line there, IMO. But Barnes must know what he's doing, because the beating caused THIS to happen:
Vertical vomit! Or, more precisely, the expelling of the evil Demon from Josh. Mom is stoked. But Meg's cop hubby has a major hard-on for Barnes, and brings the full force of the po po down on him. Needless to say he's pissed when Mom won't press charges, so Barnes is free to go!
The ep ends with a flashback, showing that Barnes in fact saved his daughter from his possessed wife Allison back in the day. So it would appear that this Demon really has it in for Barnes, and the battle is joined. Barnes looks at the sky and says, 'Come and get me.'
I think Outcast has potential, but the pilot was VERY depressing to me. It is dark to be sure, and I have no problem with dark, but the maudlin, slow moving nature of the pilot concerns me a little. More action would fix this, so let's give it a chance, shall we?