Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 29/08/2020

THEY’RE OUTSIDE [FrightFest 2020]


Max (Tom Wheatley) runs a successful YouTube psychology show. He plans to film agoraphobic Sarah (Chrissy Randall) over the course of ten days, and is determined to get her out of her house, which she has not left in five years. What he finds is a deep-rooted belief superstition of an entity called ‘Green Eyes’. A folklore character that Sarah believes took her daughter. Highly sceptical but over-confident in his power to help with Sarah’s mental health, Max gets drawn into a series of strange occurrences. Events that will lead to both his and Sarah’s disappearance.

The film is presented as ‘found footage’ of what Max and his partner Nicole (Nicole Miners) have filmed, as well as interviews with Max’s parents, put together by Sarah’s best friend, Penny (Emily Booth). There’s even an introduction from a Professor of Folklore at the start, played by Nicholas Vince, who gives a soothing, trustworthy primer for what’s to come. We’re told right from the start what the outcome is going to be, but nevertheless, it’s an absorbing and effective ride.

Footage filmed at Hastings’ May Day festival Jack in the Green (yep, it’s a real annual event!) adds some flavour to the proceedings, making it feel just as creepy as landing on Summerisle. The format also manages to poke fun at the phenomenon of insincere YouTube ‘presenters’ but the humour doesn’t get in the way of the chills. Directors Sam Casserly and Airell Anthony Hayles build the story up gradually, with stories and unexpected knocking rather than outright scares. This approach allows the legend to get under the viewers’ skin before delivering its foreshadowed suckerpunch. Some evocative illustrations depicting the Green Eyes tale add to the atmosphere. The occasional subliminal flash helps to unease too.

There are great performances from Randall, who realistically conveys the struggles of an agoraphobia sufferer, and Wheatley, who plays the host who doesn’t really believe what he preaches and is quite a prick. They’re Outside is one of the most effective faux-doc/found footage films bolstered by the performances and engaging script.