Written by, directed by and starring Ace Cruz, Outrage (or, as it's been retitled for this North American DVD, Outage Born In Terror, is a moderately entertaining thriller even if it isn't a film that really brings anything new to the genre. The movie follows pretty young woman named Christine (Katie Fountain) who brings her friends, Molly (Natasha Lyonne) and Jack (Derek Lee Nixon) deep into the woods to help her close up the family's hunting lodge which she intends to put up for sale. You might think this would be a business opportunity for clever young Christine, but she associates some very bad memories from her childhood with this place and would just as soon get it out of her life for good.
How unfortunate for our travelers then that a middle aged lunatic named Farragut (Michael Madsen) and his three cohorts, the Loomis Brothers, are using the lodge as a hideout. Since they recently escaped from a military prison they're obviously not too keen on going back to the big house so they see the arrival of our intrepid travelers as an invasion of sorts. The bad guys decide to hold the good guys hostage but an escape attempt on the part of the three friends soon turns this into a game of chase through the woods, with the bad guys holding all the guns and only too happy to put their military training to use. Christine in particular is having a hard time dealing with all of this as those memories are coming back like a flood, but some help from a medicine man named Obech (Michael Berryman) might just give her the edge she needs to make it out of the woods alive.
Outrage is entertaining enough but it's also got some fairly serious flaws. The most obvious is the clichés that are scattered throughout the film, from the ex-military guy gone nuts to the 'simple' backwoods characters played for cheap laughs, there's really not much of any originality here. Cruz tries to infuse his film with an interesting spiritual side and attempts to get deep in spots by exploiting this angle, but it's not enough to make this one stand out from the countless other straight to video thrillers that have been churned out over the years (a surprising number of which also seem to star Michael Madsen). On top of that, the characters aren't very well developed. There are times where the story attempts to use the 'childhood trauma' angle to fill in some of the blanks but it's not quite enough to really matter all that much.
To the film's credit, it was shot with a fairly modest budget and Cruz seems to have done a good job of milking that for all that it's worth. The movie is nicely shot and features some very slick camera work, though there are times where the darker scenes are just so shadowy that things get a bit lost. The performances are a bit better than the average low budget feature though Madsen being Madsen does tend to overdo it now and again in this picture. He doesn't quite chew through all of the scenery but he does take a bit here and there. The film's score is, unfortunately, not particularly effective and at times glaringly inappropriate to the point where it's actually a bit distracting, but some nice locations do help to build some atmosphere here and there.
The movie goes along at a good pace and it's fine as cheap, disposable entertainment but sadly fails at amounting to anything more than just that. There aren't enough scares to really keep you on the edge of your seat and casting Michael Berryman, as cool as he is, doesn't make it a horror movie even if that is more often than not the genre he's most associated with thanks to The Hills Have Eyes. Had the tone been more consistent it would have worked better, but there are spots where the dialogue is pretty awkward an you're honestly not sure if you're supposed to be intrigued by the supposed tension or amused by the unintentional comedy that the picture periodically doles out.
Outrage Born In Terror is presented in a pretty spiffy 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that features nice color reproduction and a fair bit of detail in the foreground and the background of the image at all times. Some mild compression artifacts are present and there are scenes in which the colors have been tinkered with, presumably in an attempt to generate some atmosphere, but there isn't any print damage or heavy edge enhancement to complain about. Some scenes are a bit on the soft side but it looks like this was intentional on the part of the filmmakers rather than a few with the transfer.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track is of fairly decent quality. The levels are well balanced and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to complain about. Dialogue comes through clearly at all times and the score and sound effects are mixed in with the appropriate amount of punch, the gun shots in particular. Don't look for any subtitles, alternate language dubs or closed captioning options, however, as you'll be sorely disappointed.
Extras include a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Phase 4 films features that play before you get to the disc's contents, static menus and chapter selection.
Michael Madsen fans will enjoy Outrage Born In Terror more than the average viewer and if you fall into that group, consider this one worth a rental. That said, unless you're part of Madsen's core contingent of devotees, you can safely skip this one and your life won't be any worse for it. Phase 4's DVD looks okay and sounds alright but it doesn't contain a whole lot in the way of supplemental material to make up for the lackluster feature presentation.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.