Posted September 21, 2018 by Chris Hick in Film Reviews

He’s Out There (2018) DVD Review

Are you afraid of the dark, or what’s in the dark? The answer in this film is surely what’s in the dark. He’s Out There (2018) seems to be representing a new breed of slasher film. It all seems very familiar and goes over familiar ground but is definitely more terrifying. In the 1980s it was the feckless and frankly unlikable teenagers who were bludgeoned or hacked by the bogeyman, whereas in the new breed of film it is the family unit that is under attack. Think of such home invasion films as The Purge (2013) or the the recent sequel to The Strangers (2008), The Strangers: Prey at Night (2017). While all these are essentially home invasion films the slasher concept is also there with stalking bogeymen with their own mask or weapons of choice. Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers set the tone of the bogeyman, but the new ones are equally as asocial.

Receiving its UK premiere during the August Arrow Video Frightfest 2018, this is a first time directorial effort from Quinn Lasher in a film tha contains a fairly relentless series of suspenseful horror moments from beginning to end. It opens with the family unit consisting of Mum, Dad and their two young daughters preparing to go on vacation. The family are driving a distance to their remote Summer home they have been going to for the past few years. Dad has some work to do and will be following a bit later; already in the set-up the generic scene is paved for the horror that lies ahead. We have already had one of the children reading from a story book found at the house on a previous visit about a mouse afraid of the dark called ‘Darkness Hides’, a book we later learn was found in their Summer home from a previous occupant.

Mum, Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) and the girls go on ahead and arrive at the house at tea time. The house itself is in a gorgeous rural setting in the middle of a forest by a lake. Even the setting is reminiscent of Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th (1980). While Mum (who has of course left her mobile phone in the car) prepares the evening meal for the girls, the two daughters play on the garden swing. They see a tied red string leading through the wood that leads to a picnic table set-up, as though this were a Mad Hatter’s tea party. Mum calls them in for supper and later the youngest daughter, Maddie (Abigail Pniowsky) becomes ill and is sick. It transpires that she had eaten a cup cake found on the picnic table and in her mouth is found a label with the word “hello” written on it.

Suddenly bumps start happening in the night on the roof and Mum and daughters come under siege from an assailant outside who terrorizes the family, determined to torment and eventually kill. Dad is on the way, but of course his fate is assured and we know quite early on from a neighbour that there had been deaths and tragedies at the house before, including a disappeared mentally disturbed boy called John (major clue).

Yes, as a horror film it is very generic and has all the usual horror tropes one would expect from a slasher, including the killed bogeyman and his corpse disappearing. Where it departs from some of those 80s classics is that the terror never really lets up, even if we are sure how this is going to unfold, much of this aided by the loud sound design of the film. Part of its terror also comes from the childhood horrors it projects, so effective in such horror films as The Babadook (2014). The bogeyman himself is a trope, a bandage masked stalker in steel toe caps and a boiler suit, little different from all the others, but at least the film does show some imagination in the manner in which it projects its fears.

Chris Hick

Chris Hick