Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Outpost

Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Outpost - 2008, Rated R

Weary mercenaries battle a ghostly army in this chiller that grimly explores the downside of being a gun for hire.
Ray Stevenson (HBO's "Rome") stars as DC. He's a down and dirty type willing to take just about any job but his main selling point is his "Ask no questions" policy, which he comes to regret here. The film begins with him taking an assignment that will see his band of seven (not so merry) men sent to Eastern Europe to do a 48 hour job for a shady scientist named Hunt. The trip there is filled with the usual macho posturing amongst the mercs, which include a sensitive medic, Jordan, and a rough and tumble good ole boy, Prior.
The group finds their destination pretty quickly (an old Nazi bunker) but their radios immediately begin to whine and crackle ominously. The bunker proves easy enough to enter and appears abandoned but the viewer knows better as we get a shot of a humanoid shape darting through the dark as the rusted doors are opened. Here the mercs perform their stupidest maneuver by opting to split up and look for a power source. Strangely they find one before any harm can befall a member of the group.
They turn up a laboratory that features a strange machine and a pile of corpses, which appear benign enough until one begins stirring. Right away things go bad as a sniper wounds one of the men on watch outside but a perimeter search reveals that no one is near by. The survivor in the complex proves to be pretty much catatonic and questions arise when the bullet is removed form the injured sentry. The round appears to be too old and rotten around to have even fired properly.
That night the men begin getting picked off one by one by wraith like figures that appear to materialize out of nowhere. DC opts to drop his "Don't ask" policy and soon braces hunt for some answers. Hunt turns out to be one of those scientist types who know just enough history to have his own questions but no answers. He does relate that the bunker was a Nazi staging area for an experiment involving energy fields and time travel in an effort to create the perfect soldier. Unfortunately he doesn't understand the technology though he does assess their chances of survival as poor in the face of their enemy, which turns out to be-time traveling, super human, Nazi zombies. This movie earns points for that notion alone but it gets better as the men scrape together all of their skills to come up with a risky plan that might save them all but is probably doomed to failure. It all ends with a bang up sequence that finds the guns for hire on the run and using themselves as bait to trap the zombies (never a good idea). It's a fierce finale that's pretty grim but more realistic than anything playing at the multiplex.
This one works due to some intense sequences and a very real sense that everyone is in over their heads. Stevenson also adds a lot to the mix as the group's leader and there's a good performance by Richard Brake as Prior but this one belongs to the villains. The flick also deserves points for letting Eastern Europe stand in for itself (Hollywood too often uses the region to stand in for any city such as Chicago in last year's "Wanted"). This one clocks in at a lean ninety minutes and should please fans of action and horror alike.
Bets Line: "The last time you found yourself dealing with the undead...what did you do?"

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.