Mary must caution Fergal, too. Except not about keeping a clear-head, but to stay away from girls. And not really caution, either–more like violent, nose-to-nose, confrontation goddamn forbidding it. Yeah. Lots of luck there, sister–boy that age might as well be an erection with feet. And here is another thing that just doesn’t make sense to me–she warns him that he “isn’t like other people”, that it is impossible for him to even be aroused, much less have sex…but she doesn’t tell him why. Because she has some pretty goddamn valid reasons that even the horniest teenage boy might find compelling…but she never tells him why. Instead she shames, threatens an warns him celibate. Kind of reminds me a bit of Margaret White…minus the crazy. She might as well accuse him of having dirty pillows and order him into his closet to pray.
Not even an Irish Margaret White can keep a boy from wanking, though…and he can even telepathically make Petronella wank, which I imagine is an enviable talent…though Fergal is one helluva late bloomer to just now be struggling with raging hormones. Also working off his hormones is Petronella’s ex janky-looking Ned-boy who is repulsively making out with Petronella’s pretty best friend, until he tells her to fuck off. The ladies of Greendyke seriously need a little consciousness-raising. To add insult to injury, the beast makes its first “appearance”–blessedly obscured in the shadows, for now–and spares her from a dismal future of never-ending fuck boys.
While we’re here…you don’t have to watch Cat People and Ginger Snaps and countless other ambiguously messaged body horrors to recognize the arousal=shape-shifting=horrible, violent deaths. Which may be an even more fucked up message than the virgin Final Girl in 80s slashers. Still, despite the bewildering claims of several critics, the beast is NOT a fucking werewolf…and there are werewolves in Celtic mythology–the Werewolves of Ossory, for example. Actually, an actual werewolf would’ve been a vast improvement, maybe even enough to remove the caveat of Flawed but Worthy. Alas, no.
Which is better than deeply flawed and definitely unworthy…when next Liam and Cathal meet with the Laird, he allows the hunt but forbids Cathal to consult the dead…because they don’t like him. Neither does the Laird, especially because of Cathal’s drinking. Apparently, it is massively important to keep a clear head on a hunt, because Laird treats Cathal’s night out as being on par with flashing a child. Nevertheless, the hunt is allowed, so…game on, bro.
Since Liam and Cathal seem to traverse the entire movie through one alleyway or another, it reminds me of the critic who compared the look of Outcast to Angel Heart–the cinematography is relentlessly bleak and forbidding. Liam and Cathal’s faces always appear to be partially shadowed. I would not presume that this accurately reflects Edinburgh–if the cinematographer of Angel Heart was able to turn my favorite town in the whole world, New Orleans–where the only thing more colorful than the town itself are its people–into a dark, gray, grimy place I can’t even recognize, then surely it would be no trick to ugly up Edinburgh.
Finding them won’t be easy, though–after threatening to call social services on Petronella’s mother for being such a drunken waste of skin, the officious English bitch housing agent can’t seem to find Mary and Fergal’s flat even though she is standing right in front of it. Mary notices the agent wandering around and goes out to confront her–obviously, she means them harm. This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Bitch agent makes the mistake of threatening eviction and calling the cops. Mary retaliates with a curse (delivered in an unintentionally funny accent: “Listen karfully–dese are werds o’pahr”)–from that point on, the agent won’t know where or who she is–which is pretty fucked up, really. It’s a surprisingly effective scene and for such a slight woman, Kate Dickie can be pretty goddamn menacing. Again…if for no other reason, the powerhouse performances makes Outcast worth watching.
But Petronella has no problem finding their flat and even groks the protective runes painted on the wall, though she isn’t hearing any of that “no girls” shit. So Fergal meets her later and vaguely explains that they “aren’t like normal people” and what is left of his kind “live in the shadows”. Which is why I had to search for ten year old interviews to find out “not normal people” means the aos si…and also what the fuck aos si meant. So that is his hazy way of telling her–maybe better not. Yeah. Good one, kid.
Liam teaches Cathal how to locate people by calling down a bird, gutting it and reading the entrails for directions. Once the bird guts ping the correct direction, Cathal leaves skidmarks.. Liam has to call after Cathal to remind him not to leave the bird carcass behind, lest Mary find it. Yeah, yeah, whatever. The English agent, however, doesn’t have a fucking clue where she is, wandering about the monster-infested alleyways before the beast puts her out of her misery, as well.
Unfortunately, these attacks also leads to another big plot hole, though to be fair, it is one that all shape-shifting movies share (exception: American Werewolf in London, which is one of the reasons it is still the best werewolf movie ever made): how does Fergal not know he’s the fucking beast? Once he shifted back to human, he would theoretically be wearing nothing but a thick layer of gore. Normally, this is something I could pretend not to notice, but the movie is very coy about not revealing the obvious, which is OF COURSE, Fergal is the fucking beast. And even if he were that stupid, Mary isn’t. If she can crack open a bird egg and know by the double yoke that Liam and Cathal is on their trail (and react with a very impressive inhuman snarl, by the way), goddamnit, she would know her if her kid mutated, left the damn flat and came back covered in agent guts. She would probably even recognize the guts.
Moving on. Liam and Cathal come across Mary’s burned out van; now all they have to do is wait until sundown to home in on their flat. Cathal is still skin-tweaking and restless. Liam warns him to keep a clear head ie don’t drink, ya Irish lush. Yeah, yeah, whatever. As he rage-drinks and rage-thinks, we discover Cathal’s true agenda–to kill Mary, for whom he has unrequited hatred. Of course, he was instructed specifically to kill only the boy, but at this point, it’s becoming pretty apparent that Cathal is a disreputable piece of shit. He decides to find her on his own…and immediately spots her. But Mary notices him (and she doesn’t know her kid is creeping.?…never mind) and the chase is on. She ducks into an alley and does a very cool, low-tech shape-shift into the shadows.
Cathal, fucked up on liquor and fury, loses her and even after murdering another bird, can’t get a bead on Mary’s location. Naturally, he leaves the bird carcass behind–because clearly, Cathal doesn’t listen worth shit–which Mary scoops up, takes home and feeds to Fergal. Come sundown, Liam can’t even summon a single suicidal bird…and knows that Cathal must’ve been sloppy with a carcass. No matter; a convenient thug accosts them, so Cathal beats the shit out of him, shoves Mary’s 15 year old photo into the thug’s face, and breaks fingers while interrogating him, much to Liam’s disgust. It is becoming clearer and clearer why even the dead don’t want to have anything to do with Cathal; it is also a convenient object lesson–with great power comes at least some responsibility, for fuck’s sake.
Safe for now, Mary lays out playing cards in a tarot Celtic cross formation, from which she divines that Petronella is just outside the door. Mary goes to confront her, ordering defiant Petronella to stay away from Fergal. But Petronella doesn’t realize that Mary isn’t threatening her; she is sincerely warning her. Although it would’ve been far more sensible to maybe add, “I’m trying to save your ass”, but unnecessarily vague dialogue designed to prevent logical resolution has been a grand cinematic tradition since the advent of the talkies, so who am I to judge. Predictably, Petronella tells Mary to fuck off and makes goddamn sure to immediately see Fergal and preferably, make him a man.
And she damn near succeeds, the pre-coitus interruptus occurring only because Cathal comes into Fergal’s line of vision. Luckily, Mary’s indoctrination has more than convinced him that Cathal isn’t just the bogeyman–he’s the reason Fergal is beast-stalked, if not the beast himself, because OH BULLSHIT. I mean, granted, Fergal has thus far shown no evidence of being a genius, but damn. THERE IS NO BIG REVEAL, COLM. Strangers walking past my house could figure this shit out. Stop being so fucking coy. Except when you’re being maddeningly vague.