No Escape is a reminder that we trade & barter our real lives, our safety & privacy, in return for pixelized validation on the internet. We auction the real world currency of time for digital smiley faces, upwards thumbs, and random stranger comments to the highest bidder. Often, to the lowest bidder.
This film impressions review contains spoilers for No Escape.
No Escape can best be described as ‘Hostel’ meets ’14 Cameras’ with a touch of ‘Bad Match’ for the ending. Placing the depraved side of social media under a microscope with flood lights. Lead character Cole [Keegan Allen] highly resembles game streaming personality PewDiePie in appearance, which is surely an intentional visual. Cole is exclusively focused on promoting his digital persona on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook (though they’re not directly referenced as such in the film)… To the detriment of all else going on in his life. It’s all about pushing the envelope to amass more followers, more subscribers, more fame. Vanity in a bottle with no lid.
Thus, when Cole is presented an opportunity to go to an escape room in a foreign country with no knowledge of the wealthy individual hosting it… He doesn’t jump, he leaps at the chance! Flying over to Russia without any research on the fabled, rich Alexei [Ronen Rubinstein]. Relying purely on his friend Dash’s [George Janko] casual endorsement. Vastly more concerned if the escape room will impress his virtual voyeurs.
Forgoing Safety for Followers
A secret club party in Moscow turns dangerous when two gangsters harass Cole’s girlfriend Erin [Holland Roden] at the bar. Cole however, is too distracted by fans asking to pose with him live on his Insta video feed to notice. It’s only when a friend, Thomas [Denzel Whitaker] points out repeatedly that a gangster [Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez] is talking to Erin that Cole finally looks.
Alexi does not seem to have the situation under control at all despite his presumed, elevated social status. One of the gangsters pulls out a gun on Cole, Erin, and Alexi before security hauls them off. A massive, ominous warning sign.
Yet, Cole’s only concern on the ride back is if Alexi recorded everything on his phone for his followers. Erin comments, “We could have died” but Cole only feigns being on the same page. Going viral rules his life. Danger equating to more likes, views, and subscribers in the digital world in opposition to a physical threat in the real world.
Escape Room Turns Bad
Cole’s group willingly go to Alexi’s escape room as planned, an old Russian prison. The draw? It’s an exclusive escape room just for Cole, personally hand-crafted for his personality. Cole even shows off during a live Insta video that his followers cannot go to a website to purchase the same experience. The social media star soon finds his friends are all trapped in primitive, medieval torture devices outside of Erin… Who’s in a Houdini-like glass encasement.
Though the devices cause physical injury to his friends, Cole and the group still find the escape room ‘fake.’ After all, Alexi’s girlfriend Viktoria [Emilia Ares] commented he was having nightmares for a month afterwards. Not to mention, Alexi said to ‘not forget none of it is real, they’re not in any real danger’. Suddenly, Erin’s glass encasement starts filling up with water. This is where the film takes it’s title, ‘No Escape‘ from.
Cole is unable to solve a puzzle to free Erin… And Alexi does not respond over the intercom when asked to stop. Cole ends up breaking the metal top of the encasement off seconds before Erin drowns. It’s then the whole group is kidnapped by the gangsters at the bar.
Auctioned off to the Highest Bidder
Meet Andrei [Pasha D. Lychnikoff], a man with a following like Cole… Only from the underground. Andrei’s fans bids on him going ‘Hostel’ on celebrities like Cole. They bid on the suffering of the untouchable celeb. When Cole attempts to negotiate, ‘I’ll pay you anything’, Andrei responds, “They’ll pay more!” The live internet broadcast getting higher bids by the second.
Cole manages to escape temporarily through the vents of his jail cell. Only to witness his friends’ demise one-by-one. Cole is seemingly unable to save Erin from a nightmarish fate or anyone else… Despite not lacking for effort. The will of the voyeurs defeated Cole’s willpower. His in-person request lost in a sea of faceless comments and bids. An army of clicks and likes. A platoon of views and revenue. Who stands a chance against an anonymous entity? Waging wars with a single click of their mouse. No emotional appeal can compete with that.
Reality Sets In
Finally, Cole discovers Alexi who taunts him that now he’s “lost everyone!” Cole then rushes Alexi, brutally punching him. Alexi yells to “Wait!” but it’s too late. The lights in the room turn on, Cole’s friends are all still alive. A playback of Cole’s journey shows on the screens. Everyone is okay… Except Alexi. His girlfriend screams when she sees Alexi on the ground. Cole’s Insta feed comments appear on the screen, “Did we just witness a murder?”
Cole is beside himself and unable to say a single word. No where to hide. The whole world saw his actions broadcasted live over the internet. The faux-reality of his virtual persona finally destroyed the only true life he ever really had… The flirtation turned obsession. When does social media end and real life begin? Rather, when did our virtual lives take over the real ones? Whatever the case… There’s no looking back. No Escape.
Where to watch No Escape, film trailer
No Escape is out now digitally and on Video on Demand services. You can rent or purchase a digital copy of the film on Amazon. A physical DVD edition will be released on Amazon on October 20, 2020. The DVD is currently available for pre-order.
The film was written and directed by Will Wernick. No Escape is distributed by Vertical Entertainment and produced by Escape Productions. Wernick previously directed and wrote 2017 horror film, Escape Room. This is Wernick’s 8th directed film and the third picture he’s written.
Disclosure: TheNaturalAristocrat.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. An affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. A copy of the film, ‘No Escape‘ was provided to The Natural Aristocrat® for review.
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