NO ESCAPE Review: Will Wernick’s Latest Hardly Escapes Stark Reality
Escape Room director Will Wernick’s return to the escape room horror genre bodes as fruitful ground worth exploring if you’re a fan of the genre and love to see how certain films get reinvented. His latest, No Escape (f.k.a. Follow Me), throws in an influencer twist for a more palpable take with audiences and surely enough, it doesn’t hold back on its fair share of gore and violence.
Moreover, it leads to something much more darker and twisted, and almost foreseeable if you have an extra sense about these kinds of films. Think of all the times you’ve seen one two many viral videos where people put themselves in certain uncomfortable situations, and the good chance of controversy arising in the aftermath from one thinkpiece to the next, and sort of get the gist where Wernick’s No Escape is headed.
Joined by his entourage comprised of Dash (George Janko), X-gamer Sam (Siya), childhood friend Thomas (Denzel Whitaker) and girlfriend, Erin (Holland Roden) who are all in on the surprise, internet superstar Cole (Keegan Allen) is whisked away on a trip to Russia, marking ten years leading up to his fortuitous rise to social media fame.
Once they land, they convene with wealthy socialite and Dash’s supposedly close connection, Alexei (Ronen Rubenstein) who facilitates their hotel stay and nightlife while readying Cole’s biggest challenge yet: An exclusively-constructed Escape Room in an old prison building where they must solve a series of puzzles if they are to walk out alive.
Night falls and Alexei brings Cole and the gang to get things started. Before he knows it, Cole is black-bagged and sent on his way where he’ll stumbleupon a raft of grisly, awful and downright life-threatening predicaments, each that not only further unmask the amusement of what was supposed to be a harmless game, but also mark the most convincingly fraught and deadly night of his entire life.
No Escape is less of an escapist horror thriller, and definitely more of a condemnation, which is fitting for today’s social media-addicted millieu where it’s easy to forget to see past the veneer of so-called celebrity, or even just another person; The character, Cole, reflects on this aspect earlier in the film with another character, in which he discusses how Erin is really the only one who “sees” him.
Wernick’s script does well to mask the certainty you might grow in analyzing the events as they play out. Again however, if you’re keen on these kinds of films, then you’re likely aware of what’s going to happen, although it helps that No Escape delivers in other important areas that matter, from solid performances to enticing gore and edge of your seat suspense, and set pieces that truly lend to the illusion.
In fine horror genre fashion, No Escape is as consequential a thriller as it gets, wrapping it all up with a chilling, gruesome and bloody finish to amplify a crucial message, especially for netizens: one worth noting at a time when more often than not, social media makes it way too easy to remove someone’s humanity – and also, where live social media feeds can easily sprout into active crime scenes. You know,… right out of a horror movie.
Vertical Entertainment will release the horror/thriller film NO ESCAPE on Digital and On Demand on September 18, 2020.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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