From the outset, Brian Watkins’ Outer Range embeds in you a seed of intrigue and then proceeds to intentionally fascinate and frustrate in equal measure. Mystery is layered upon mystery, events unfolding to taunt you with resolution, one which remains tantalisingly hidden in the darkness. Literally.
Fundamentally this is a tale about family, a recognisable fable where long-hidden, perhaps forgotten secrets emerge to cloud the past, present and future. Stoic rancher Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) harbours good intent, in his mind protecting his wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor) from historic truths, until the discovery of a hole on his Western pasture disturbs the equilibrium. The blackness of the strange pit seems to swirl with cosmic gasses, its appearance coincides with the arrival of the equally curious Autumn (Imogen Poots), a drifter taking an unusual interest in Royal.
Mysterious hole aside there is a solid drama central to Outer Range. The wife of Royal’s son Perry (Tom Pelphrey) disappeared nine months previously, while the whole family becomes intrinsically linked with the death of the son of neighbouring rancher Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton); a man with a keen interest in the Western pasture.
Yet a supernatural, perhaps mystical thread is prominent throughout this slow-burning western that while having a lot to say, does so without any real coherence. Themes of faith and redemption, penance and choice are strong but often become confused through the staccato pacing and unpredictable character actions.
That intrigue will keep you going, however. The striking locations – when you can see them through the gloom – add atmosphere and strong performances underpin the series. Just prepare yourself for some frustration.Outer Range is available on Prime Video.