Monday, April 17, 2023

The AMAIZE-Ing Race

God bless North America, not because we deserve it (or there is a god?) but because we have so much (god)damn CORN, and you know what's great about corn? It makes a damn great set for a cheap horror movie. 

Quick Plot: Seven strangers awaken in a cornfield, each with nothing but the clothes on their helpfully fit backs and a mystery object that might be useful: a compass, box of matches, knife, gun, and so on. Like any Cube-Meets-Saw-By-Way-of-He-Who-Walks-Behind-the-Rows scenario, interpersonal tensions threaten to destroy them just as much as whatever monster is lurking just off camera. 

For the most part, the group works together better than you'd expect. Doctor Sam is able to help address wounds, while veteran Ryan serves as the muscle. The wild card is programmer Cameron, a British woman who seems intent on disagreeing with everyone on everything. 

As you might have guessed by now, there's very little new ground explored in Emerson Moore's Escape the Field. The herd gets thinned, twists are revealed, and those who remain learn the value of teamwork (whether in time or not). There's a reason this particular subgenre works, and for the most part, Escape the Field understands that. We need a character or two to care about, another one to fear, maybe one to hate, and ultimately, just enough time to watch them suffer before we get bored.

At barely 90 minutes, Escape the Field does understand that it needs to keep moving. That works, though the muddy overall look of the film almost stretches the film in less pleasant ways. It's a cornfield! Give me a scorching sun that sets into a black star-filled sky. Instead, everything feels gray. It's a strange choice. 

So...that's pretty much what you get. Ugly corn, attractive victims, a fun mystery, and unsatisfying conclusion. In the scheme of this kind of genre, it's probably just slightly on the positive side of the median. 

High Points
We're so used to these kinds of film setups starting with moody characters who immediately clash and scream at each other, but surprisingly, Escape the Field's batch are refreshingly level-headed...mostly

Low Points
While I enjoyed how the clues added up, the ending (no spoilers here) is both familiar and unsatisfying

Lessons Learned
Nothing is less pleasant than an obsessive coder

Scarecrows are incredibly valuable natural resources

Eh, Escape of the Field pretty much gave me what I expected and since that's why I watched it in the first place, it certainly satisfied (without dazzling) me. If cornfield-set strangers-in-a-sadistic-game is also your jam, have at it on Peacock. 

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