Escapee (2011/Blu-Ray/Anchor Bay Ent.) Review

In the wake of Daniel’s review of Halloween, I essentially watched the same thing. A young girl murdered, a deranged madman cooped up in a mental institution, a story set at night, a group of sex-starved teens, a revealed family connection. Is this Escapee or John Carpenter? I can’t decide.

A thriller by the numbers, the killer is the only interest. Smiling and leering at the audience, Jaxon (Dominic Purcell) is a pretty boy pretending to be Jason. The mask is a Baldwin brother. He exists in the dark. The camera avoids his face. We dart every which way but on the kills. Normally I like this. But not here. We know the secret. It’s not that difficult. Why focus on the killer’s shirt or parts of his body? Is this Haines His Way?

We begin with bleached colors. A slight whiff of Leatherface mashed with Rob Zombie. A killer etched only in shadows preps a body. We see an arm, a leg, a tattoo. The film is almost too clever. The digital photography distracts. Is this First Blood or The Devil’s Rejects? The film goes back and forth and never with much. This is direct-to-video in all its glory. Tacky, gutless, lots of talking, the heft was left behind.
The story follows Abby (Christine Evangelista) along a group of Psychology students on a tour of the local asylum. Abby and her best friend Renee (Melissa Ordway) gab about sex and studies as they walk further in. Giggling, a classroom lecture, we wait for Nancy and some guy named Krueger to show. They never do. Déjà vu is all-around. A lockdown, a look from a stranger, people coming to your door at the dead of night, that’s your plot.

Like Voorhees or Michael, Jaxon makes short work of everybody. Those around him never have a clue. Towels, tasers, this man loves to party. No one deserves mercy, least of all co-eds. The plot thickens in the home stretch. By then though, “the battle is over… and the dominant personality has won.” Blandness can bury anything even Halloween: The TV Movie.

Anchor Bay’s edition resembles the movie. The video reeks and shimmers all at once. Much of this relates to the way it was shot. Daylight scenes are fine but beware of much of the second half when budget and digital rear their ugly head. Escapee offers a respectable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The thunder and the thumping soundtrack are very effective. A making-of documentary, a trailer, and a few stills round out the disc. For horror junkies who crave some novelty, go elsewhere. For those wanting a safe way to spend 90 minutes, here you go.

-- B.L. Matthews

Director: Campion Murphy
Lead Actor/Actress: Dominic Purcell
Genre: Thriller/Slasher
Blu-ray Release Year: 2013
Theatrical Release Year: 2011
Time Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Region Code: A
Release Company: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Website: www.anchorbayent.com