It is the 14th century, just a decade after the Black Plague left 60% of Norway’s population dead. In the distance, a wagon and horse trudge along the empty land, carrying a family of survivors looking for a better place to live. A short while later, they encounter a group of thieves and murderers, and teenager Signe (Isabel Christine Andreasen in her debut) witnesses an ambush that leaves her parents and younger brother with arrows through their chests.
The brutish killers spare Signe, instead deciding to take her captive in a camp formed by their leader, a vicious woman named Dagmar (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, CHERNOBYL DIARIES). There, it’s revealed that Signe will be volunteered as a surrogate so that the camp’s only other girl, a pre-teen named Frigg (Milla Olin, also in her debut) will have a sister. Frigg soon befriends Signe against Dagmar’s demands. But when she’s tasked to cut off one of Signe’s fingers as punishment, she uses the knife to cut her free, allowing her to…escape!
From there, ESCAPE (known as FLUKT in its native tongue) finds the pair on the run from Dagmar and company, trudging dirty and muddy fields, jagged and rocky mountains, wide open fields. These locations, all found in Norway and captured by cinematographer John Christian Rosenlund, offer a wealth of picturesque visuals.
The screenplay, written by Thomas Moldestead (COLD PREY, COLD PREY 2), tells us very little about the girls. At just 80 minutes, there is almost no time for much development—they need to be mistreated, abused, fleeing, struggling, and surviving. Really, such development is not as necessary as one might seem, because the movie isn’t about where the girls have been, but rather about where they’re going to end up. (Most of the backstory is actually about Dagmar, delivered by the man who offers shelter to Signe and Frigg.) With so few details (especially early on), so much depends on the abilities of the leads, and fortunately, both Isabel Christine Andreasen and Mila Olin have the presence to make us sympathize with and root for their characters. If any American directors get wind of this movie, they may find them to be worthy stars.
ESCAPE is directed by Roar Uthaug, the Norwegian filmmaker who helmed the effective 2006 slasher COLD PREY aka FRITT VILT. Uthaug keeps the story (however minimal it is) moving briskly, loading the movie with many sequences of chases and attacks. The downside there is that very little of the action offers anything fresh and is comprised mostly of bearded animals swinging weapons at whoever they come across.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Entertainment One’s high-definition presentation of ESCAPE faithfully captures John Christian Rosenlund’s cinematography and the stunning Norwegian locales, bringing full life and color (from the muddy browns to the sky blues) to the picture.
Audio: Norwegian DTS-HD Master Audio; English 2.0 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English. The dialogue is clean and clear, while Magnus Beite’s score and sound effects come through surround sound speakers with tremendous power.
The Visual Effects (2:40) offers a brief look at the amount of special effects in ESCAPE.
Deleted Scenes (5:41): There are five here, which can only be viewed as a whole.
Bloopers (1:51) collects a few flubs from the cast.