Escape the Field (2022) is Perfectly Fine Brainless Horror Fun
Title: Escape the Field
First Non-Festival Release: April 28, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Emerson Moore
Writer: Emerson Moore, Joshua Dobkin, Sean Wathen
Runtime: 89 Minutes
Starring: Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Shane West
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Six strangers Sam (Jordan Claire Robbins), Tyler (Theo Rossi), Ryan (Shane West), Denise (Elena Juatco), Ethan (Julian Feder), and Cameron (Tahirah Sharif) wake up in a corn field with no recollection to why or how they got there. Each are given an item to aid in their escape and after some initial friction, they begin working together to find a way out for help. They realize that they aren’t alone when what looks to be a violent creature attacks a man in front of them. After more hopeless searching they find clues and traps alike that complicate their plans for fleeing their new prison.
Escape the Field is serviceable survival horror propped up by its captivating mystery and fun location.
The concept of strangers waking up in an odd location and hesitantly working together to get out of their prison is a long-standing horror setup. Coincidences come and go easily but there is still a level of believability in the interactions of the six players. This might agitate some viewers not used to this type of horror film but it is necessary to move the story along appropriately and get a modicum of character development established before bodies start dropping. Escape the Field borrows heavily from some of the greatest in this subgenre, but it still manages to flavor its mystery with enough twists and turns to keep it engaging. In fact, one of its greatest strengths is not focusing on its why behind it giving the audience the task of theorizing.
Many horror films fall into the trap of having its characters muse on the possibilities surrounding their capture in an effort to fill time. Aside from a few spare moments of dialogue, the crew in Escape the Field focuses on solving the puzzles before them and getting the hell out of there. The final reveal is truthfully a letdown considering the hour and fifteen minutes that came before it. While more thought could have gone into the overarching antagonist, it still works because there isn’t much buildup to it.
Escape the Field makes great use of its location to escalate the tension and leave tiny clues to the mystery puzzling the unwilling participants. There are only so many ways to film strangers wandering through cornfields, but the dynamics of Escape the Field allow for the monotony to be subverted in a satisfying manner. By injecting various out-of-place technological adaptations of the field, this low budget horror film manages to make the setting even more unnerving while adding to the mystery. Humans have a tendency to focus on mismatched objects and settings, so by incorporating these contrasts, it sets the film up for some moments that divert the audience’s attention away from the limited resources at their disposal.
While an enjoyable popcorn film, the most noticeable weakness of Escape the Field is its cast. Thanks to clunky writing in the form of awkward introductions, the cast fails to elevate the material to authentic levels of fear, distrust, and confusion. Moving as if wounds evaporated and walking aimlessly as if their kidnapping is a mere inconvenience rather than a life-or-death affair are among the most obvious points against the film. Thankfully, the main trio are able to give serviceable performances that draw attention away from the less seasoned cast mates.
Is Escape the Field a good film in the traditional sense? Not exactly. It is, however, an effective and engaging mystery that captivates all the same. Its revelations are never quite revelatory, but the journey from point A to B makes up for the intellectual merits. The only undeniable rough patch in this cornfield is the acting. Not only does it drag the film down from a technical standpoint, it makes it more of a chore to watch, especially in the beginning, which is the most critical time for a horror film to establish its protagonists. Fans of trapped-in-a-room horror will find this effort particularly charming, but all those who want something more polished might want to Escape the Field before entering.
Overall Score? 6/10