“What is happening?” is the one question that was constantly in the forefront of my mind, if not on the tip of my tongue, during “Escape the Field.”
The premise is simple – escape the field. Unfortunately, the filmmakers get lost in a maze of their own uninteresting lore. Their franchise ambitions are apparent, but another film of this caliber would be a waste of time, money, and energy for all parties involved.
“Escape the Field” sees a mismatched group waking up in the middle of a cornfield with no recollection of how they got there in the first place. Each survivor wakes up with a seemingly ordinary item (in this movie some of the items are a compass, gun, matches, a knife, etc.). However, as they move throughout the field, they discover these items have more than one function. The way the items are used is the most interesting part of this movie, which is not saying much as everything else seems half thought out. This movie’s structure is similar to how established franchises will split their last movie into two parts, except this movie doesn’t earn its “extension” since it doesn’t tell a story so much as present an idea.
This movie has several plot holes, but the ending is a giant question mark. There are other articles that believe the antagonists are aliens. However, after watching the ending a few times, I believe the survivors are underground somewhere outside of a large unrecognizable city. The movie provides little to no insight to the identity of our antagonists. We do not know who these people are (individuals or the name of an organization), their motives, or what they are trying to accomplish. One could argue the unknown is scarier than the known, but in this instance it simply feels lacking in imagination or originality.
You may be wondering why I have not provided names of characters or actors. That is because the acting in this movie is about as generic as the movie’s premise. None of the actors bomb, but none of them are exceptional either. If you are not watching this on the big screen, you run the risk of thinking this was an original Syfy production. The size and scope of this movie should lend itself to a larger format, but everything in this movie feels cheap. For example, there is a sequence early on where Sam (Jordan Claire Robbins) and Tyler (Theo Rossi) are walking through the field, and the corn stalks behind them are badly CGI-ed in. It is a minor thing, but a small scene like that should be done practically especially when your movie takes place in a giant cornfield.
The makeup and special effects in this movie are also poor. Shane West plays the hardened soldier Ryan. At one point, he is drugged by a creepy scarecrow that also acts as form of surveillance for our faceless antagonists. The drug makes him go into a berserker rage with blood dripping down his eyes. The blood is unconvincing because of the shade of red and the crayon-like lines beneath his eyes. This plot point leads into the larger mythos of “the monster” stalking survivors in the field, which again might be an interesting idea if it actually went anywhere.
I do not know if the filmmakers decided to remove all the references to the antagonists to explore that narrative thread in a sequel, but if “Escape the Field” is any indication of what future installments could be like, let’s hope those sequels don’t escape development hell.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Big Comic Page received a screener for review purposes. “Escape the Field” will be in select theaters, On Digital, and On Demand May 6th. The DVD and Blu-ray will be available on June 14, 2022 with audio commentary by Producer-Writer-Director Emerson Moore and Writers Joshua Dobkin & Sean Wathen. As well as the making featurette “Pieces of the Puzzle” which weren’t included in the screener provided.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511