Okay, they got me on this one. I realize that Stephen King is an icon in America. Of course I never have been interested in him. I have not read one of his books. I loved The Shining, but let’s face it, that is more of a Stanley Kubrick movie than a Stephen King story. I think I’ve seen Maximum Overdrive, but that was pretty silly.
So, why am I writing about The Outsider? I generally watch whatever’s on HBO on Sunday nights, (except that dragon show) and it caught me. The atmospherics are truly creepy and the acting is beyond stellar. The premise is fairly straightforward: a high school baseball coach (Jason Bateman) in rural Georgia kills and mutilates one of his pupils, his DNA is everywhere on the scene. Then, after being arrested by police detective Ralph Anderson (an amazing Ben Mendelsohn), things start to go….off.
They have video proof and more DNA evidence that the coach was in Ohio at a conference when the murder occured. Which brings the question: what is going on? The first two (of ten) episodes move slowly, with the police more than flummoxed about what is happening. By the third episode, they have brought in eccentric ‘savant’ investigator Holly Gibney (played perfectly by Cynthia Erivo) who begins to piece things together. She details a trail that the police could not find.
All the familiar Stephen King tropes are here, the power of evil, psychic power, a ‘magic’ or ‘touched’ character (Holly Gibney), and something happening that is unbelievable. The slow pace and creepy presentation drew me right in, however. The mid-part of the series consists of a lot of Ralph Anderson saying he doesn’t believe in ‘monsters,’ only in facts and science, until he finally starts to see what Holly is telling him.
By episode seven, the characters are getting on board with the idea that they are literally chasing a ‘bogeyman’ (known as ‘El Cuco’), and the pace speeds up as they try to stop him. I’ll try not to give any spoilers, but there is a showdown at a cave site that is creepy and violent. And a twist, a BIG twist at the end.
So, thanks to HBO, I watched an (adaptation) of a Stephen King novel, and I enjoyed it. I went along for the ride, and I liked the ride. Right now you could do a lot worse with your viewing choices (I’m talking to you, Tiger King fans). Give it a spin, The Outsider is a well done miniseries.