The escape room trend reached a boiling point a couple of years back; it seemed like everybody was hosting one, creating one, or making playing one part of their common social outings. Not that there is anything wrong with that; escape rooms, if done well, can be amazingly fun experiences. Especially when solving them involves teamwork.
The feeling of solving each of the clues and making progress is only enhanced when you share them with others. Because two heads are better than one, the game makers can then go full out into creating more complex and difficult puzzles to solve.
After the boom began, Sony Pictures tried to take advantage of the idea by making it into a series of movies. The Escape Room movies, released in 2019 and 2021 are a fun horror affair, and translate the experience to screen somewhat successfully. However, without the input and the participation that the actual rooms give you, the movies always felt like a step back for the concept.
This time, Lionsgate brings their own take on the escape room concept, and this time they take it into an open field. A corn field, to be precise, and the players need to solve the puzzle if they want to escape and live another day.
Escape the Field is directed by Emerson Moore, written by Moore himself alongside Joshua Dobkin, and Sean Wathen. The film stars Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Tahirah Sharif, Shane West, Elena Juatco, and Julian Feder. The film tells the story of Sam, a doctor who wakes up in the middle of a cornfield. Besides her, there is a gun, a couple of bullets, and not much else. Sam has no idea how she got there, but as she starts meeting other people in her same situation, they start to realize that someone might be playing a deadly game with them as the pieces.
The first thing that might come to your mind as you start watching Escape The Field is the legendary, LOST Pilot. We all remember as Jack Shepard opens his eyes in the middle of the jungle without any clue as to where he is or what has happened to him and his fellow passengers.
Escape the Field doesn’t offer Jack as a main character, but it does give us another doctor, Sam, who, just like her counterpart in the LOST TV show, reacts and uses her medical skills during the journey. She is incredibly helpful and comes across as a natural leader as the movie progresses.
Sam is played by Jordan Claire Robbins, a young actress who so far has only been playing small supporting roles in films and television. Robbins takes the starring role in Escape the Field and does it with ease. It is very easy to get behind her as the de facto leader of the group. She also has all the classic signs of being the final girl, by being both tender, reliable, and strong when she needs to be.
The rest of the cast does a very good job, and the character dynamics are some of the best things in the movie. Theo Rossi plays Tyler, a Texan who begins as the most suspicious character in the piece before later becoming one of the most loveable. This is something the actor has a lot of experience with thanks to his breakthrough role in Sons of Anarchy.
Shane West also does his part by playing Ryan, a rough type of character that has hidden depths. The role is small and in the hands of any other actor it would be thankless, but West knows how to seize each second of his screen time and the character ends up growing on you.
Sadly, Tahirah Sharif’s character, Cameron, comes off as the weakest link in the cast. It probably isn’t the actress’s fault, but the character comes off as annoying and unhelpful in the worst of ways, especially taking into consideration the context of the movie. There is always a character like this one in this type of movie, but being 2022, we still hope that the writers can get past the tropes of the genre and start developing more realistic and complex types of characters.
That is the main issue with Escape the Field. The film is clearly a low-budget effort. The film occurs mainly in one location, has a limited set of characters, and the visual effects, along with the rest of the technical aspects, don’t seem to be of the highest quality. However, the set-up and most of the actors sell the movie very well, and it is, for the most part, a fun experience as you get to piece together the clues alongside the characters. The mystery aspect of the film keeps you watching because you really need to know what happens at the end.
Unfortunately, when the end comes, the movie falls apart and relies on a type of ending that has been seen so many times that it feels like a joke every time it appears in a movie or TV show. Because of that, the ending feels more like a set-up for a second film, instead of trying to do something meaningful and resonant in this one.
This conclusion doesn’t feel satisfying at all, and it makes a very entertaining movie feel like a complete waste of time. It is very hard to come up with an ending that leaves people with a good mouth taste, but the one here is definitely not one of those.
Escape the Field is entertaining, and it has a very good cast, but the writing falls short and leaves the premise hanging, stopping it from reaching its full potential.