Tuesday 20 January 2015

The Escape (2013)

Directors: Alessandro de Vivo and Ivano di Natale
Star: Massimo de Matteo
This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
While the motion sickness I feel at overt handheld camerawork kicked in the moment The Escape began, I was still impressed by the poetic majesty that was also set in play. A man runs, clearly for his life, with the camera attached to him so that we see neither where he's come from nor where he's going, only his face as he does so. Massimo de Matteo does a great job as this unnamed character, chased by a sort of hooded bounty hunter type to the odd but effective choice of a gothic pop/rock score by Federico Truzzi. This and the perspective shifts of Antonio de Rosa's camera make the film feel a little like a video game, but that's no bad thing. It enables Alessandro de Vivo and Ivano di Natale to sucker us in immediately as we wonder about the context we can't see before they layer in the mystery of the title with a simple face to face conversation. 'How did you escape?' our focal point is asked by the man in an inevitable shadow, and we're instantly hooked. This is very clever filmmaking, deeply engaging us in mere seconds.

Of course, I can't really say much more because of two things: nothing much actually happens, from the point of view of plot progression, and almost everything that does is spoiler material. In fact, this feels a lot less like a film and a lot more like a trailer. There's nothing here that isn't firmly emotional in tone and there's nothing here that isn't either an action scene or a pivotal moment. It's as if de Vivo and di Natale wrote a feature film but didn't have the finances to make it, so stripped it down to six minutes and turned it into a pitch. Half of me feels that this is a perfect encapsulation all on its own and the other half wants to see the whole feature; at present the first half is winning that argument inside my head, but I'm sure that many would see the equivalent battle go the other way. There's a show business maxim to 'always leave them wanting more' and this is the epitome of that in visual form. It blasts its way past so quickly that it's almost a dream but it's one we want to experience again.

The Escape can be watched for free at Vimeo.

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