Combustible Celluloid
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With: Holland Roden, Ronen Rubinstein, Keegan Allen, Denzel Whitaker, Emilia Ares, Pasha D. Lychnikoff, Kimberly Quinn, Inja Zalta
Written by: Will Wernick
Directed by: Will Wernick
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, grisly images, pervasive language, some graphic nudity
Running Time: 92
Date: 09/18/2020

No Escape (2020)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Gyp-Saw Puzzle

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A vague copy of the successful Saw franchise formula, this horror-thriller lacks interesting puzzles, likable characters, and memorable shocks, but has an unsettling level of violence toward women.

The generically-titled No Escape — which was originally stuck with an equally generic title, Follow Me — focuses on a group of diverse friends, though they seem forced together rather than sharing an organic chemistry. There's very little personality in any of them.

Cole (Keegan Allen) is a successful vlogger, who heads to Russia with his team to celebrate his vlog's tenth anniversary. There, they plan to do a show-stopping broadcast inside the ultimate escape room. While enjoying themselves in a nightclub, a Russian gangster, Alexei (Ronen Rubinstein), begins harassing Cole's girlfriend Erin (Holland Roden), leading to a fight.

The next day, the escape room proves to be rather intense, as Cole is forced to dig a key out of a corpse, and his friends — including Samantha (Siya), Dash (George Janko), and Thomas (Denzel Whitaker) — are locked into torture devices. When the game ends and the timer runs out, the friends still can't seem to escape, and more horrors await.

The leader, Cole (a white male), is self-obsessed and thinks only about "content," but the movie doesn't have any idea how to satirize or comment upon him. That's just who he is.

The various puzzles and deaths in the movie manage to be uninteresting and not particularly gory or shocking, but at the same time, a little too interested in inflicting nastiness on the women characters. Then, when it comes to the grand finale, it's sadly all too predictable because the movie gives away the answer early on in a specifically-placed line of dialogue. (It's also pretty dumb.)

All this adds up to a pointedly unmemorable movie, largely springing from the fact that it's next to impossible to care. No Escape (or Follow Me) will inspire viewers to head for the nearest and most accessible exit.

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