He’s Out There (2018)

Quinn Lasher’s “He’s Out There” is a film that’s gotten a lot of buzz for being a hidden gem on Netflix and I have to contest that assumption. Is it a hidden gem? No. It’s not even a very good movie, when you cut it down. Lasher’s horror survival thriller is a good idea, but a movie that falls apart when you supply even the simplest logic to it. No really, not even nitpicks, but a simple “Wait a minute…” will eventually lead you down the path to “Well that’s kind of stupid,” in the end. Yvonne Strahovksi plays Laura, a mother who takes her two young daughters, Kayla and Maddie, to a remote lake house for their annual family getaway. Of course it’s remote, in the middle of nowhere. No one ever gets stalked at Holiday Inn. When they arrive, local area resident Owen mentions that the family who previously lived in the house had a son named John who went missing, mysterious. Meanwhile, at a gas station, Kayla and Maddie’s dad Shawn follows up the rear, preparing to meet them there. As the night goes on, Laura realizes that they’re being terrorized by a masked man hiding in the woods. With their resources disabled, Laura has to fight for their lives, or risk falling prey to the swift murderer.

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“He’s Out There” is a silly film that tries very hard to lay on thick layers of mood and suspense, compensating for the fact that the movie is pretty dumb. It’s insanely dumb, to be honest. First of all, why would they buy a house without knowing the morbid history behind it? Why would Laura basically allow her daughters to roam around in the woods alone without watching them? And what was the guarantee that anyone would follow the killer’s trap involving ribbon that would lead his victims to their doom? What was his plan if someone found the red yarn and just decided “You know what? I’m going to wait in my car,” or “I’ll go the other way”?

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Too much of the killer’s who modus operandi is reliant on these ridiculous whimsical death traps that absolutely depend on faulty human logic. By the finale, it over reaches way too far, to the point where it asks us to buy a lot for the sake of suspension of disbelief. Director Quinn Lash sets up the narrative with such inexplicable results, even introducing a mysterious side character that proves to have absolutely no effect on the overall narrative. For a movie that’s only about ninety minutes in length, director Lash often feels like he’s stretching the narrative about as thin as possible, even delving in to the back story of the film’s killer.

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That is also an odd choice in narrative direction, as the inevitable exploration of the killer’s whole story and why he is choosing this way of life raises so many more questions. I’m all for ambiguity, but the killer of “He’s Out There” just seems like cobbled together elements that never amount to an intriguing or even interesting slasher. “He’s Out There” isn’t a complete waste of time, as Strahovski is very good in the lead role, but in the end, there are so many other better genre offerings worth your time.

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