Escape Poster

Escape (2023) Review

Escape opens with a massive burst of adrenaline. A woman running for her life across a desert landscape trips and impales herself on a sun bleached piece of wood. Her pursuer leaves her for dead because, as he tells his boss, “She’s too damaged. Even if she lives, she’d never sell.” He should have made sure she was dead because as he looks at a map, she comes up behind him and beats his head in with a rock. Then she stabs him with his own knife and, just to make sure, puts the pickaxe in the back of his truck through his chest.

Twenty-four hours ago Tamsin (Ksenia Islamova, The Lockdown Hauntings) and her friend Karla (Sarah Alexandra Marks, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, Sky Monster) arrived in Fuerteventura. It didn’t take long for Andras (Sean Cronin, The Fourth Musketeer, Eliminators) and his crew of human traffickers to chloroform them in their hotel room and add them to the collection of women in the cell under his villa.

Escape 3

Writer/director Howard J. Ford (The Ledge, The Dead) lets Escape’s story unfold on two levels. Most immediately, we have the victims themselves coming together and plotting escape and revenge. On the other, a team of experts back in England are tracking down leads, trying to trace the missing women’s phones, use of their credit cards, etc. For both, the clock is ticking as the ship that will take them to the buyer is approaching the island.

While, like many current thrillers, Escape is fairly tame compared to the grindhouse and drive in fare that inspired it. In this case, films like Ginger and its sequel The Abductors and women in prison films such as The Big Bird House and Amazon Jail that end with an against all odds escape by the prisoners. While Ford doesn’t incorporate the nudity from those films, he does deliver some strong scenes of violence, Almost nobody has a gun so knives, pipe wrenches, a sharp stick in the eye and a bit of pruning with a set of garden shears all figure into the plot with results that range from obvious CGI blood spray to extremely painful looking genital damage.

Escape 2

Something else he’s imported from older exploitation films is the villain’s appearances. They look like an old time rogues’ gallery with their collection of scars, eye patches, scruffy beards and foreign, in this case Russian, accents. The one exception is Jude (Louis James, H.P. Lovecraft’s Monster Portal, Vipers) who serves as the plot’s wild card. The women, having been kidnapped for the same buyer, are all of a type, extremely thin blondes. With only three of them, Karla, Tamsin and Lucy (Sophie Rankin, Coronaphobia, Northern Lights: A Journey to Love) getting any characterization so it gets very hard to tell them apart in some scenes.

I was somewhat worried that Escape would turn into a thriller along the lines of the director’s previous film DarkGame and become a tech thriller focusing on the hunt for the women. Thankfully, it mostly stays on Fuerteventura and turns the last act into a series of chases and confrontations, with the question being whether or not any of them will live long enough to be found.

Escape 1

If the middle section occasionally feels slow, the final act more than makes up for it with several cathartic action scenes. Even the obligatory scene where everything pauses, so two of the women can bond over past traumas, is kept short. The result is an entertaining and unexpectedly violent film that, while it doesn’t get as nasty as the material might warrant, still makes for a solid exploitation adjacent watch.

Saban Films will release Escape to Digital and VOD Platforms on March 15th.

YouTube video
Where to watch Escape
Our Score
Scroll to Top