No Escape (2020)

A viral star is about to get the thrill of his life in this film that is described as Saw meets Escape Room.

For the past ten years, Cole has been a viral star and he has thrived on getting that special adrenaline rush that made him popular among the Internet. For the 10th anniversary of his launch, Cole is excited to learn he is going to Moscow. He takes along his first serious girlfriend, Erin; and buddies Dash and Sam. He gets an even bigger surprise when he reunites with Thomas, his friend that he hadn’t seen in a few years. As the group heads to Moscow, they learn of Dash’s connection to a rich man named Alexei, who promises them a good time with something special in store.

However, the trip is not without some bumps in the road. At a nightclub, they are accosted by a couple of goons, but are saved by Alexei’s bodyguards. On the next night, the group enters an escape room. However, this is one unlike any other. Soon enough, Cole learns that he and his friends are now in a fight for survival as this escape room may lead to dire consequences, including death.

Writer-director Will Wernick had made a film called Escape Room, not to be confused with the bigger budgeted 2019 horror film. This film is one he describes as an “in-spirit” sequel with the craze of social media making an impact today. The story of a viral star who finds himself doing a special sort of “escape room” meshes the likes of certain horror films, particular the Saw and Hostel series of films with the idea of the escape room concept and the impact of social media can sometimes blur the lines between reality and fantasy.

A young cast really excels at making the film work. Keegan Allen leads the fray as Cole, our viral star who is celebrating his 10th anniversary of starting his social media career. The beginning shows a montage of his thriving into becoming a star on the Internet circuit. We meet his inner circle, and it includes his first serious girlfriend Erin, played by Teen Wolf’s Holland Roden. She gives off a sense of both excitement and worry in her role. She is excited that Cole has invited her on this latest trip, but there are bits and pieces that makes her fearsome of what could be in store for her.

The film is more than an escape room film, but also the dangers of being in a city that they have never been to. This involves a possible situation at a nightclub, where the group gets accosted by a few random thugs who attempt to confront Cole and his crew after their attempt to take Erin proves futile. The character of Alexei, played by Ronen Rubenstein, is quite mysterious as he invites the group thanks to fellow member Dash, played by George Janko. Denzel Whitaker (Forest’s son) makes the most of his role as Thomas, Cole’s longest-lasting buddy who reunites with him after a few years just for this special trip.

The second half is where things really pick up. This is where we get the escape room sequence that then delves into something more sinister. Just when you think they are all safe, a major plot twist occurs that now becomes a real fight for survival. This is where we are introduced to Andrei, played by the underrated Pasha Lychnikoff, who is just perfect for the role of this sadistic Russian, who thrives on menacing his victims all while streaming the torture for those who gets their jollies on it. It may seem crazy and there are those who will be turned off, but it is the final moments of the film that truly stand out. This was the icing on the cake that make this an above average film and should be seen by those who are fans of the “torture porn” genre.

No Escape is definitely worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of films like Saw and Hostel. The reason involve two major plot twists that keep the film going as well as the performances by the cast. But it’s the final twist that really stands out and will make your jaw drop.

WFG RATING: B+

Vertical Entertainment and Voltage Pictures presents an Escape Productions film. Director: Will Wernick. Producers: Jeff Delson, Kelly Delson, Sonia Lisette, and Will Wernick. Writer: Will Wernick. Cinematography: Jason Goodell. Editing: Cris Mertens.

Cast: Keegan Allen, Holland Roden, Denzel Whitaker, George Janko, Siya, Ronen Rubenstein, Pasha Lychnikoff, Emilia Ares, Kimberly Quinn, Dimiter D. Marinov, Inja Zalta.

Vertical Entertainment is releasing the film in select theaters, On Demand, and Digital on September 18.

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