Written by: Adam Vaughn | May 5th, 2022
Escape the Field (Emerson Moore, 2022) 2 out of 4 stars.
Director Emerson Moore’s debut feature promotes itself as a thrilling narrative about six strangers who wake up in a seemingly endless corn field, not knowing how they got there. Each individual has a single item (a knife, a gun, a lamp, etc.). As the group of strangers set out to discover how they got there, and why they were put in such a remote area, they soon discover that someone—or something—is hunting them. Knocked off one by one by the relentless enemy, the group soon unlocks clues as to not only their purpose, but also their path to escape.
Unfortunately, Escape the Field does what several films before it have done before, and better. Elements of Predators, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner all come into play, and the film’s central riddle drives the plot. However, not much happens in terms of new and original content. The dialogue is often extremely on the nose, resulting in the exposition being dragged out and emphasized to little avail. The story focuses on the objects each person wakes up with, which comes across as a formulaic way to move the narrative forward. By the conclusion, the mysterious “enemy” character raises more questions than it answers, and the story’s final imagery leaves the audience extremely confused and dissatisfied.
Several actors deserve recognition for their performances, among them Theo Rossi (Emily the Criminal), Jordan Claire Robbins (Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy series), Tahirah Sharif (Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor series), and Shane West (Outsiders); this last one plays the villain. In addition, the cinematography and fast-paced editing give Escape the Field much momentum. But though the corn-field-with-mechanical-secrets imagery has interesting visual moments, they come at the cost of an anticlimactic outcome, topped by cheap visual effects.
The film goes through the motions of eliminating each individual character down to the last survivor, in true horror-movie trope, only to find an even bigger story waiting in the last thirty seconds. Ultimately, I can see this concept working as a proof of concept to something grander and larger in scale. As it stands, Moore simply delivers many clichés in service of a fun, yet uninspired, piece.