There’s something immensely scary about the unknown. We’re seeing the resurgence of projects further exploring that concept more and more, especially taking inspiration from Lovecraft’s famous stories. After Lovecraft Country‘s cancellation, I’ve been hopeful that a new series would come around to offer that same feeling. Luckily, Amazon Prime’s Outer Range manages to not only scratch that itch, but even tell a compelling family drama as things start to unfold in the small range of the Abbott family in Wyoming.
I have to say, I am immensely impressed that this series is Brian Watkins’ first. There’s something very meticulous about its pacing, as we follow Josh Brolin‘s Royal Abbott, as his life starts to unravel around him. The moment he discovers a strange hole in the middle of his field, one that seems beyond our own comprehension, everything around him slowly starts to unravel. He is a man that seemingly has everything in control and does anything for his family, yet someone who has his own secrets to hold. Events throughout the series runtime will push him beyond his breaking point, as he tries to make sense of it all.
The project has an all-star cast with Josh Brolin, Imogen Poots, and Tom Pelphrey being the standouts. Even saying that there’s no weak link in this cast as everyone is seemingly giving it their A-game throughout. Even some crazier characters like Noah Reid‘s Billy Tillerson are designed to fill their role. Brolin is still the man carrying the entire series, and the former Thanos actor truly carries every scene he is in. There’s this amazing subtlety in his performance, as he tries not to let a single weakness break out. It adds to a lot of the tension throughout that the series aims to build.
Speaking of, it would be a disservice to give away any plot points. While it doesn’t make my job reviewing it any easier, I believe it needs to be seen without giving away any of the major plot points throughout. There are a lot of curious twists and turns in this series that not always are connected to the main void, which is heavily teased in the promotional material for this series. Amazon describes it as “genre-bending” and I can definitely agree that remaining vague with this series was the best way to promote it. In a way, the series feels like a more restrained version of Lost.
There are some beautifully done shots throughout, which really highlighted the themes and sometimes dread of being lost in the middle of nowhere. The rancher backdrop works in the show’s favor beautifully and adds a special flair that you wouldn’t normally see in this kind of story. The open fields create that illusion of just how small and insignificant we are in the bigger picture. Subtle camera tilts and the right shot composition can make something as simple as a hole in the ground feel eery and endless. There are many shots and moments that still stick with me to this day.
Of course, the right sound design can truly bring the ambiance together for such a story. In a way, it might even be the strongest element in this story. You know you’re watching something special if moments are punctuated through its audio design. The show knows exactly when to amp up its music to keep you on your toes. There were moments when I had shivers when the music hit just right throughout my time with the series. It’s one of those soundtracks that you’ll listen to even after you finished your watch, as it just conveys a certain feeling.
Not everything is perfect, as there are moments where the story drags a bit and there’s a lot of exposition throughout. Yet, it ironically also kind of works to the series’ benefit given the way it continues to build up the tension once those moments come back into play. Still, there are times when you do wish it got back to the juicy part of the series. Just highlights how difficult it is to talk about the series without spoiling anything, but there is a lot of set-up at play here. I cannot recommend the series enough, especially if you’ve been looking for something to scratch that same itch as Lost, Annihilation, Lovecraft Country, and similar projects.