Review by Jude Felton
The beautiful country of Norway; home to the fiercest of Black Metal, lenient jail terms and of course Roar Uthang. The young director (well, he’s 3 days younger than me) first came to prominence with the superior snow-bound slasher flick Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt) in 2006. The film didn’t deviant too far from the slasher formula, but it was executed wonderfully. He was also on board as a writer for the sequel, which surprisingly surpassed the first film.
Now, he teams up once again with writer Thomas Moldestad to tackle another genre, after the kid-friendly Magic Silver in 2009, with the historical piece. I’d like to call it a historical epic, however, it’s only 76 minutes long, so that nips that idea in the bud. Regardless, it is 76 minutes well spent, as we journey back to 14th century Norway, a decade after the Black Plague has decimated the population.
Into this wilderness is a young family on their travels; travels that are cut short by a band of marauding bandits. Only one survives the attack, and that is young Signe, who is taken hostage by the gang’s leader, Dagmar. It is here that she meets Frigg, a fellow hostage, and learns that she is to suffer a grim fate. What to do? Well, just take a wee glance at the title and you should have a good idea.
This leaves us with a rather brutal game of cat and mouse across the Norwegian countryside, as Dagmar and her cronies hunt down their escapees. In terms of plot, Escape isn’t pushing any boundaries, but the combination of taught writing, stunning scenery, bone-crunching violence and of course Uthang’s direction, that it all comes together as a highly enjoyable action film.
There’s no pussy-footing around here; folk don’t get off lightly and if there’s a chance of someone receiving a bruising death, they’ll probably get it. We also have the added bonus of returning Cold Prey star, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, joining up with Uthang again to star as the ruthless and tortured Dagmar.
Having watched Escape, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I found myself asking the dreaded question; when will Hollywood approach Uthang to make an English language film, if they haven’t already? He’s shown great versatility and has an eye for film; both Cold Prey and Escape look beautiful, so it can’t be too long before they come knocking.
Escape is definitely worth your time checking out. Forget that it has sub-titles, if that is likely to put you off, and settle in for a highly enjoyable and fast-paced slice of Norwegian goodness. The DVD, which is released by Entertainment One, doesn’t have a ton of extras; bloopers, deleted scenes and a piece on the visual effects are your lot, but it is worth it for the film itself.
Escape is released on DVD and Digital Download in the UK by Entertainment One on July 29th.