Outlier (USA, 2021)

A woman escaping from one horrible situation finds herself into something potentially more sinister in this emotional thriller.

Olivia Davis was once a promising law student who se life has been turned upside down after meeting het boyfriend James. James has been completely controlling of her and will not let her even see her brother, who she has had a close bond with. Afraid to find a way out, an opportunity at a gas station arrives when James once again screams at Olivia. This time, a young man named Thomas comes to the rescue and seizing the chance, Olivia breaks it off with James.

With nowhere to go, Thomas takes Olivia to his family cabin to help her cope with the issues involving James. At first, Olivia is enjoying her time with Thomas, who offers her to stay until she is ready to go. However, Olivia begins to hear strange things and she begins to question whether she made the right choice about staying with Thomas. When she learns Thomas’ intentions, she finds herself with a decision to make. Will she choose the right one?

From writer-director Nate Strayer comes this film about a woman whose attempt to get out of an abusive relationship goes into something either good or something more sinister. Strayer shot most of the film in his own cabin, where the “knight in shining armor” Thomas takes Olivia in. The film brings loads of tension that it is the ultimate sympathy card for our protagonist Olivia, who finds herself in one predicament after another.

The film has somewhat of a Misery vibe as it seems like Thomas, played by Thomas Cheslek, seems to have some sort of obsession with Olivia, excellently played by Jessica Denton. Denton gives off a wonderful performance as a woman who is just miserable as she wants to escape the abuse of her boyfriend but is afraid to do something. Thomas seems a bit monosyllabic at times, but it goes with the character, a software developer who sees Olivia as a test subject for a new AI program he has created. It does get very weird at times and things get questioned throughout the course of the film, especially involving Olivia having nightmares about her boyfriend.

And that boyfriend, James, is well played by Logan Fleisher. He makes the most of his screen time as a total creep who goes as far as preventing Olivia to see her own brother. We learn during her time with Thomas why she is close with her brother and how she wishes to repair their bond, one broken by James’ abuse. We also learn throughout the film that while Thomas’ methods are sinister, he feels like he is helping her make her own decisions, or perhaps push her to make her own decisions. With a runtime of 80 minutes, the film runs smoothly with the story.

Outlier is pretty emotional and tense at times, thanks to Jessica Denton’s driven performance in the role of a woman out of one situation and unexpectedly into another. Despite a little flaw in a sometimes monosyllabic performance from co-lead Thomas Cheslek, it still is a good story that relies on emotion and twists.

WFG RATING: B

Random Media presents a Strayer Films production. Director: Nate Strayer. Producer: Isabel Machado. Writers: Nate Strayer and Jona Doug. Cinematography: Joe Failla and Isabel Machado. Editing: Mike Hugo

Cast: Jessica Denton, Thomas Cheslek, Logan Fleisher, Dwight Alan, Nate Strayer, Kally Khourshid.

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