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Escapee (2011)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/16/2013

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/13/2013

Even those who don't acknowledge it love to be movie critics and we revel in the thought of talking about the "best" and "worst" movies ever made. What we often forget is just how good an "average" movie can be. What do I mean by that? Think about it, the typical movie, especially those produced in Hollywood or distributed by a major studio are technically competent. Despite the quality of the story or the acting, at the very least, the movie is well-made and it has no major technical flaws. We take these things for granted, so when we see a flawed movie, like Escapee, the film's issues really jump out at us.

As Escapee opens, Professor Davis (Danny Nucci) is taking his psychology class on a tour of the local mental hospital, just as a dangerous patient, Jaxon (Dominic Purcell), is being transferred there. Jaxon attacks Abby (Christine Evangelista), but she is unhurt. Abby goes home, where she plans to study with her roommates, Lynne (Carly Chaikin) and Renee (Melissa Ordway). Meanwhile, Jaxon kills several hospital employees and escapes from the facility. Despite the fact that Detective Jensen (Faith Ford) is hot on his trail, Jaxon continues his killing spree as he searches for Abby. Officer Carter (Scott Michael Elrod) warns Abby and Lynne (Renee has gone out on a date) to stay inside, but there's no way to stop someone as crazy as Jaxon.

Escapee is one of those weird movies which makes you say, "Someone should have known better." Faith Ford (who also produced the film), Dominic Purcell, and Kadeem Hardison aren't major stars, but they are all industry veterans and they should have looked at this script and asked, "Is that all there is?" In Escapee, Jaxon kills a bunch of people while trying to get to Abby's house, while Abby and Lynne spend a lot of time on their cell phones, and the police follow Jaxon's trail -- and that's the crux of the movie. We are treated to scene after scene of Abby texting, Abby and Lynne talking about studying, Jaxon walking, Abby and Lynne hearing a strange noise, Detective Jensen looking concerned, Jaxon walking, and so on. You get the idea. At the outset, we are told that Abby lives near the mental hospital, but it seems to take Jaxon forever to walk to her house. We get to see Abby and Lynne read and discuss various things, none of which is interesting. In Writer/Director Campion Murhphy's defense, he does include a plot twist, but falls flat and ultimately means nothing.

While the story could have certainly used some help, it's the editing which really kills Escapee. I think that it's the belief of most that the editor simply has to arrange the shots in order to make a story. While this is true, the editor also helps to shape the pace and feel of the movie. If I'm reading his bio correctly, this was editor Matt Hathcox's first gig, just as this was Murphy's first feature film. The two still have a lot to learn. We immediately grasp this in the second scene when the camera lingers on a shot of the mental hospital for an insane (no pun intended) amount of time. From there, we get scenes that open or close with "dead air" and random shots of nothing. These miscues only add to the dull pacing of the movie, as Hathcox and Murphy cut back and forth between Jaxon's quest and Abby and Lynne doing random things. There's no real sense of time here and it feels as if Abby studies for the entire night before going to bed.

Short of being a totally different movie, I don't know what could have saved Escapee. On the extra features, Faith Ford describes how her hometown had a mental hospital and everything was put into lockdown during an escape. This idea could have lead to a good psychological thriller, instead of this slaher mess we are left with. As it stands, Escapee should only serve as a curiosity piece for fans of Suburgatory, as it’s very weird to see Dahlia speaking at a regular rate of speed.

Escapee features Dominic Purcell as an Elvis impersonator on Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The image is somewhat dark at times, but the action is always visible. The colors look good. The image is soft in some shots and the scenes in Abby’s house look hazy for lack of a better word. The level of detail suffers at times and the depth is adequate. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio doesn’t suffer from problems as with the video. The stereo effects are good and show nice separation. The surround sound effects are active during much of the film, especially the exterior scenes, where are treated to wind coming from the rear channels. The “shock” scenes provide mild subwoofer effects.

The Escapee Blu-ray Disc contains only three special features. "Making of Escapee" (15 minutes) opens with actress/producer Faith Ford describing how the basic premise of the film is based on the local mental hospital from her childhood. Was her childhood poorly edited? From there, we get comments from the cast who discuss specific scenes and the shooting conditions. We also get an overview of Jaxon and a look at the locations in Louisiana. The other extras are a TRAILER for the film and a PHOTO GALLERY which contains production stills.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.