If you need a break from Max offerings like Mountain Monsters, and want to watch something that’s legitimately terrifying, then Richard Price’s miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider comes with strong recommendation.
Borrowing heavily from the source material, The Outsider stands on its own as a compelling psychological thriller-horror crime drama that is not only dark and atmospheric, but superbly executed through its storytelling, acting, and direction. Though the series is currently at a standstill after HBO failed to renew it for season 2, Stephen King has stated that a script was written for a second season, and that the cast and crew are interested in continuing the series.
As The Outsider baffles viewers from its onset, the Stephen King-based story only gets stranger with each subsequent episode.
The Outsider is set in Cherokee City, Georgia, and is centered on a series of mysterious murders, starting with the brutal slaying of a young boy named Frank Peterson. Little League coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman) is accused of the crime because there is a compelling amount of forensic evidence, witness accounts, and security footage that places him at the scene of the crime. But in the typical Stephen King fashion, there’s more to the mystery than meets the eye.
Terry has his own airtight alibi – placing him out of town at a conference – and there’s news footage that confirms his whereabouts during the time that the murder took place. At first, Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) felt justified in publicly arresting Maitland, but as the story progresses, he has a change of heart when he realizes that something more sinister is going on.
The Outsider is less forgiving, however, as Frank Peterson’s teenage brother shoots and kills Maitland in court before he can be exonerated for his alleged crime.
Maitland’s death doesn’t put a stop to the killings, however. Just like the Stephen King novel, The Outsider reveals that there is a mysterious figure menacing the town, and the now widowed Glory Maitland’s daughter, Jessa, is being plagued by paranormal visions that may be related to the string of murders and suicides happening in Cherokee City. As the story develops, it becomes clear that the mysterious killer is able to shape-shift, and take on various human forms as it carries out its crimes.
Stephen King has stated that a script was written for a second season, and that the cast and crew are interested in continuing the series.
As The Outsider baffles viewers from its onset, the Stephen King-based story only gets stranger with each subsequent episode. We find out that the mysterious figure feeds off of suffering, and by carrying out proxy-killings through various human hosts, proves difficult to track. In the wake of his violence, and in the aftermath of each subsequent crime, both the victims, and their families commit a series of suicides or revenge kills.
Though critics have criticized this Stephen King series for being a bit of a slow-burn drama, The Outsider was met with rave reviews upon its release in 2020. The overwhelmingly positive reception of the first two episodes were largely attributed to the direction of Jason Bateman. As of this writing, season 1 has a 91 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes against an audience score of 82 percent.
The Outsider is a must-watch for fans of True Detective, and its dark presentation will keep you guessing throughout the entirety of its 10-episode run. Reviews have praised the Stephen King adaptation for being a perfect example of the small-town charm that his novels boast, and the show has been described as “ruthlessly tense, and transfixingly spooky.”
This just goes to show you that when supernatural killings plague an otherwise peaceful small town, you’re in for some inherently great suspense.
Some less favorable reviews criticize The Outsider for not properly handling the supernatural elements of the Stephen King novel of the same name, but like many Stephen King adaptations, one could expect a number of creative liberties to be taken.
The Outsider is a must-watch for fans of True Detective, and its dark presentation will keep you guessing throughout the entirety of its 10-episode run.
In fact, Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining received similar criticisms for deviating too far from the source material, but over 40 years later, it’s still considered to be a cinematic masterpiece for telling its own story within the constructs of Stephen King’s warped imagination. We can’t say the same for the ill-fated Under the Dome series, but The Outsider will satisfy your need for mystery, suspense, and horror in a way that you’ll find refreshing.
For the time being, The Outsider ends with season 1. But Stephen King, along with production company MRC, are rumored to be shopping for a new home for the series so they can pick up where season 1 left off. Good things come to those who wait, and given the critical and audience reception of the series, we can only hope that we’ll see The Outsider eventually get renewed, even if nothing is presently set in stone.