(A.k.a. FLUKT)

"Norway 1363. Ten years have passed since the Black Death killed half the population. The country lies desolate and lawlessness reigns. Survivors are forced on long journeys in search of a new hope".

And with that, we're introduced to Signe (Isabel Christine Andreasen), a teenage girl being carried in a horse-drawn cart with her younger brother Tormod (Eirik Holden Rotheim). They're led by their parents, who are intent on traversing the barren countryside in search of a better life for their family.

Not long into their journey they hit a roadblock made up of boulders. The parents stop to clear the blockage and swiftly slain. Though the kids try to hide beneath the cart's covers, the gang of thieves soon find them and kill Tormod when he attempts to flee.

Signe is kept as a slave, and dragged away crying with the brutal gang, her parents' corpses burning on a newly ignited bonfire behind her.

Eventually reaching a ramshackle camp they've erected in the heart of the forest, the gang tie Signe up and light a fire which they sit around and share a hearty meal together: the slain family's horse. These brutish men are governed by steely blonde Dagmar (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), who wastes no time in telling Signe that she holds power of life or death over her: the men won't touch her ... without Dagmar's consent.

Which is all very well and good, until an altercation on the first night which ends with Dagmar informing Signe that, come the morning, she is going to instruct the men to gang rape her.

Luckily, a young girl called Frigg (Milla Olin) also lives on the camp and has quickly grown sympathetic to Signe's cause. She rises at dawn and frees her new friend, the two of them fleeing into the woods with the gang of thieves in hot pursuit.

From Roar Uthaug, the director of the celebrated Norwegian COLD PREY series of films, comes this latest effort - a step away from slasher horror, yet a film that still packs plenty of action and gore into its period setting.

At just 78 minutes in length, it's a lean, taut proposition that utilises introductory text to sidestep unnecessary exposition so that it can waste little time in getting the chase going. And once the chase starts, about 25 minutes into proceedings, the pace never lets up.

Berdal is excellent as the thoroughly repugnant Dagmar - a villain so one-dimensional so as to be worthy of pantomime, and yet perfect for this type of high concept entertainment: we hate her instantly, no background required.

Perhaps a little more insight into the character of Signe may have helped. But, with plenty of violent action set-pieces, simple but effective period detail and a stirring score, ESCAPE carries you along with its pace - not allowing you to smell the artifice until the end credits roll.

Fusing elements of both post-Apocalypse and Western genres, along with the obvious period-set drama a'la ROBIN HOOD, ESCAPE is a solid if derivative piece of entertainment. Coming complete with decent performances and some lovely rural cinematography, Uthaug's film will no doubt meet the needs of casual viewers looking for a stylish fix of throwaway adventure. The goodies are pure, the baddies are really mean - you don't have to do any thinking, because the lines have been drawn in bold for you.

Entertainment One furnish Uthaug's film with a highly credible region 2 DVD.

Picture-wise, ESCAPE is presented uncut and in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced and boasts strong visual playback. Colours are vivid, blacks are robust and depth is as strong as detail. What seems to be edge enhancement prevents this from being a flawless presentation.

Norwegian 5.1 audio is clean and levelly balanced throughout. Optional English subtitles are well-written and easy to read at all times.

An animated main menu page leads into a static scene-selection menu which offers access to the film via 16 chapters.

Extra features begin with "The Visual Effects", a 2-and-a-half minute featurette focusing on you-know-what. Cannily filmed for an international audience, this eschews dialogue or narration in favour of split-screen techniques to show the employment of green screens, computer graphics etc, and their end result.

5 minutes of deleted scenes are presented in 16x9 widescreen and look handsome despite the fact that they add nothing to what we've already seen. You can see why these made the cutting room floor.

A blooper reel is brief at just under 2 minutes in length, but at least demonstrates that the cast and crew had fun on the shoot.

The disc is defaulted to open with trailers for ENDER'S GAME, RED 2, SNITCH and HAMMER OF THE GODS.

ESCAPE is an interesting diversion for Uthaug. It entertains, looks great on frequent occasion and doesn't skimp on the one-on-one combat violence.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Momentum Pictures
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review