Shot and released across Europe as CRYSTAL INFERNO this was retitled and released in North America in time to cash in on The Rock’s mega-budget disaster SKYSCRAPER. INFERNO: SKYSCRAPER ESCAPE is actually a family-friendly dose of thrills.
Beginning with a prologue in which contractors building a skyscraper are caught taking dangerous shortcuts. When they can’t bribe the inspector, they push her down an elevator shaft.
We jump forward and the building is completed and occupied. One of the occupants is a lawyer handling the divorce of Brianna (Claire Forlani, MEET JOE BLACK, IN THE NAME OF THE KING) and Tom Bronson (Jamie Bamber, TITANIC 666, THE CAR: ROAD TO REVENGE). She swears she wasn’t having an affair but he’s seen the pictures. Meanwhile, back at home teenage Ben (Isaac Rouse MONSTER FAMILY), and his younger sister Anne (Riley Jackson) have figured out the pictures were faked. They race to the building just as the shortcuts we learned about in the prologue cause a massive gas explosion. The kids are trapped in an elevator and their parents have to pull together and rescue them.
To be fair this was probably shot for less than Dwayne Johnson was paid for his film so expecting epic destruction is pretty pointless. Director Eric Summer (LEAP) does his best with some surprisingly good CGI and fairly bad miniatures to make the destruction seem as serious as possible. It also helps that most of the action is confined to the elevator shaft where the kids are trapped, minimizing the need for large-scale effects.
The script itself is a mixed bag with some eye rollingly bad plotting and cliches. But it does milk them for maximum suspense even if the film’s outcome is never really in doubt. Also, making the mother the film’s action hero is a nice changeup.
INFERNO: SKYSCRAPER ESCAPE is no blockbuster, but it is a reasonably entertaining way to spend some time. It’s currently available on VOD from High Octane Pictures.