The Outsider (2020) is a series based on the 2018 horror novel of the same name by Stephen King, and the film is led by Richard Price (co-author of a small number of episodes in the series The Wire and The Deuce). The series is available for streaming on HBO.
The plot begins with an investigation into the brutal murder of an 11-year-old in Cherokee City, Georgia. Initially, the evidence undoubtedly points to the suspect’s guilt, but as the investigation goes deeper, it becomes clear that the truth about the crime is not what it seems. Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, Darkest Hour, Ready Player One) plays local detective Ralph Anderson. Anderson is faced on the one hand with the prosecution and the public to whom the culprit is obvious, and on the other hand with the defendant’s alibi that transcends the limits of the possible.
An alibi that transcends the credibility of fingerprints and DNA analysis forces him to seek outside help. Help comes in the form of Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo) who is ready to deal with frightening and supernatural factors of crime. Mendelsohn more than excels at playing a gradual transition from skepticism and reluctant participation in an atypical investigation to full acceptance and confrontation with a supernatural threat. Holly Gibney as a private investigator with an asperger’s is eccentric and fits in the story perfectly..
The Outsider goes through a couple of transformations starting with the stagnant peace of a small town disrupted by the drama of crime and murder. This is followed by hints of a supernatural threat followed by an eerie atmosphere of horror, which then escalates into a tension of mystery in an effort to find and overcome the threat.
Despite the supernatural element, The Outsider strives to stay in reality as much as possible rather than exaggerate and invent how to shock the audience. At the beginning, with the horror and tension of a supernatural threat, The Outsider enters the horror genre, and then begins to remind us of the first season of the True Detective series.
The Outsider doesn’t surpass works like Changeling (2008), It Follows (2014) or True Detective (2014) in the genres they represent – but combining horror with crime drama and mystery is commendable. With over a million viewers, viewership surpassed HBO’s Watchmen (2019) which ended with 0.935 million viewers of the last episode. With such ratings, it’s still likely that The Outsider will get a second season, which Richard Price has already started working on if the statement he made for IndieWire is to be believed.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an 82% rating with an average score of 7.39 out of 10 based on 66 reviews. The site’s critical consensus is, “Though The Outsider’s slow burn isn’t always satisfying, it remains watchable thanks to its excellent performances – especially series stand out Cynthia Erivo.” On Metacritic, it has a score of 69 out of 100 based on 28 reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews.