WHEN|WHERE Premieres Friday at 10 p.m. on Cinemax
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Exorcist, anyone?
Kyle Barnes seems surrounded by demons. Like, real ones. Family members get possessed. Local folks get possessed. Bugs get eaten. Blood gets spilled. Black vomit gets spewed.
And Conway Twitty songs get played. We’re in small-town West Virginia. Piggly Wiggly territory. Supermarket light looks eerie. Shoppers gossip of “dark forces.” Ramshackle houses never see sunlight. Cameras warily circle the sheriff and his card-playing pals. Electronic music drones ominously.
No wonder Kyle (“Gone Girl” cop Patrick Fugit) seems tortured.
At least now this loner has a comrade. Newly returned to his hometown, Kyle joins forces with Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister, Britain’s original “Life on Mars”), a self-described “gung-ho holy warrior” who’s learned “the devil is real.” Can he help Kyle make sense of forces that “been comin’ after me my whole life”? Can they together save suddenly possessed 8-year-old Joshua (Gabriel Bateman, “Stalker”)? And how much black vomit will it take?
MY SAY “Outcast” comes our way from the graphic novels of “The Walking Dead” master Robert Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta, as crafted for Cinemax by Kirkman’s hot hand and frightfest director Adam Wingard. Judged purely as a filmed effort, this week’s premiere hour is a sustained assault of twitchy-creepy elements that ceaselessly signal “genre,” while inhibiting entry to viewers whose minds pine for deeper human drama.
The show’s actors are given little opportunity to sketch scope into their lives, enough to make us sense beating hearts beneath their battered psyches. There’s mostly doom and gloom, played behind boarded-over window panes and inside cinder-block nursing homes. After you get-it-already, the show provides an extreme close-up of a lit cigarette being stomped out by a boot.
Then come more bodily fluids, portentous dialogue, sinister camerawork, oppressive music, and yes, levitations. With all this time spent checking off genre boxes, there’s scant space for the narrative to breathe beyond them.
(But never mind me. Cinemax has already renewed for Season 2.)
BOTTOM LINE Not for the uninitiated.