For the last few decades, before the world fell into a movie-like apocalypse, the film community had been crying over every remake or reboot Hollywood had to offer. Understandably, these reimaginings felt like cash grabs and people wondered if studios had any interest in new ideas. Considering Mark Twain claimed there was no such thing as a new idea over a hundred years ago things could be looking better. Though it may feel like the well has run dry especially in the current time, films like No Escape put new twists on old ideas with tense creations of talent and potential.
Cole is a popular influencer for the last 10 years who’s seen it all, done it all, and is always looking for the next big experience. So, when friends approach him about doing an escape room for his big anniversary event he’s definitely less than impressed. His friends reassure him, though, this escape room–in Russia, of all places–has real stakes unlike any other. Their arrival in Russia to meet a rich connection results in a less than warm welcome when Cole and company are confronted by sinister men warning them of the grave mistake made. Everyone’s already shaken but the night of terrors hasn’t even started yet, the real horror awaits in the escape room…
For those unaware, an “influencer” is an online celebrity. Someone who, in a way, sells their personality and through that popularity gains invitations to events, advertisement deals, and merchandise. From the first moment you meet him through almost the entire film, No Escape‘s Cole (Keegan Allen) fits the exact look and personality of an online influencer. Moreso unlike other influencer based films I’ve seen, this one models his backstory and how he acts in the film around real-life influencers to create a much more true to life character in a situation we could see someone like him winding up. While this is a spoiler-free review it’s important I address No Escape riffing on an old horror concept from the 80s. I won’t mention it specifically, though some might call unoriginal when you see it. When the execution is done as well as it is here, however, it’s not only forgiven but commended. While horror enthusiasts might clue into the film and some of its choices, for newer horror fans this is an effective revival of a classic horror moment.
No Escape couple be easily dismissed as some Saw-esque knockoff with an annoying cast, but if you take the time to watch it you’ll find a film clever, intense, and well worth a watch. From the production values to the actors to the plot, this is a film working old concepts and modern situations together to create a fresh take. When Mark Twain spoke about the absence of new ideas he compared them to a kaleidoscope of the same old colored glass pieces in infinite combinations–at least this new kaleidoscopic vision of some old stories is a fun one.
8 out of 10