‘Outcast’ premiere review: Does Cinemax have their best series yet with Robert Kirkman adaptation?

Outcast -Is Robert Kirkman a genius of innovation, or a master of capitalizing off of long-popular fringe genres. With “The Walking Dead,” he managed to help bring zombies into the limelight by telling a story that was really more about the survivors than the creatures wandering around with a craving for human flesh.

With his new show “Outcast” on Cinemax, based on his own comic, he is on his way towards doing something similar in the whole demon-possession subgenre. What this series does well through one episode is freak the you-know-what out of you. It’s one of the scarier things airing on TV right now, provided that exorcisms are the sort of thing that freak you out. The story revolves for the most part on Kyle (Patrick Fugit), a loner who has been spending most of his life trying to recover from a traumatic childhood, and his own horrific history with possession. Through his past, though, he has uncovered a way to help others with their demons, and he will be spending much of this series likely trying to find understand.

From an acting standpoint, this series is solid. Fugit is a capable lead, and while we’re not going to say that there is a standout character just yet along the lines of a Rick Grimes, we see ourselves easily getting attached to Kyle. In between some of the supporting names (including Reg E. Cathey), you’ve also got a wonderful supporting cast of longtime TV favorites.

The real appeal here is probably going to be just hardcore the series is, and in the premiere the scenes with Kyle and a young child possessed by a demon are incredibly intense, frighting, and well-choreographed to the point where you’ll want to look away. All of this is impressive given that we’re talking about a cable show, though we’re not going to say any particular effect or action pushed the envelope so much that it shocked us.

Ultimately, the “Outcast” pilot is a solid foundation for things to come. It doesn’t have the instant impact on us that “Preacher” did when it premiered on AMC earlier this spring, but it certainly fits into a Cinemax library that has included such shows as “Banshee” and “Strike Back.” It may have a ways to go to compete with “The Knick” a.k.a. the network’s best-ever series, but the potential is here for many more scares to come. Grade: B.

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