Thrillers beyond number have been built on the “throw a bunch of characters together and ‘test’ them” trope. So why not “Escape the Field?”
Characters wakes up in a tractless/endless corn patch, with a single sinister scarecrow watching over it. Each person has some item — gun with a single bullet, knife, matches, compass, lantern, etc. — that might help them all get out.
And hanging over them all is the knowledge that someone drugged and dropped them here, and someone or some thing is out there amongst the rotting stalks, manipulating and maybe even hunting them.
Jordan Claire Robbins of “Supernatural” is Sam, the nurse, the first victim we meet and the first to blurt out “Where AM I?
Theo Rossi of “Sons of Anarchy” plays Tyler, who seems rational…or sketchy.
Shane West — “Bane” on TV’s “Gotham” — is bossy and butch and tough and twisted and ex-military, a hothead with a guilty conscience and a tendency towards mistrust.
Because as this “team” assembles in the middle of this field, not everybody is totally honest with everybody else. And when they get the notion that others have been out here before them, and people get snatched out of the frame by whatever is imprisoning, hunting and injuring or testing them, “working together” to work-the-problem seems like a goal beyond their reach.
If you’ve watched more than a few movies or binged on “The Twilight Zone,” you’ve probably invested in a version of this — “Maze Runner,” “And Then There Were None,” “In the Tall Grass,” the theater’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” “Twilight Zone’s” “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” the variations are endless.
But in our “Escape Room” era, screenplays have a tendency to emphasize “the puzzle” that all must cooperate to solve side of the story. And forcing logic on this, over-explaining it and the solution that three screenwriters come up with lets the players down.
The more we know, the less mysterious and less interesting “Escape the Field” is. The more that’s revealed, the more obvious the panic amongst those writers becomes.
The players struggle to escape the archetypes they’re playing and the plot they’re selling.
Fear fades and the back-engineered, over-thought and above all else over-explained problem and solution take over the movie As the terror of the unknown is vanishes, we shrug off the characters and their predicaments.
Any worries about them shaking in their boots take a back seat to us shaking our damned heads.
Rating: R for violence and language
Cast: Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Shane West, Tahirah Sharif, Elena Juatco, Julian Feder, Niki Kerro
Credits: Directed by Emerson Moore, scripted by Emerson Moore, Sean Wathen and Joshua Dobkin. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:29