by: Sean Brickley
Remember when slasher movies were a dime a dozen? Ah, that glorious decade known as the 1980â€™s that spawned every type of sociopathic entity viewed on the big screen (and quite a few more that never made it past VHS â€“ again, thank you 1980â€™s). Over time, the whole feel of the slasher movie really got abused to the point that nowadays only once in a while does a new movie come out that doesnâ€™t feel like something rehashed. While Escapee doesnâ€™t fully escape the generic confines of the past 30 or so years, itâ€™s still a somewhat decent entry for the genre.
The film begins in a calm, wooded environment where it becomes pretty apparent that a murder has just taken place. The killerâ€™s casual demeanor remains solid from the removal of a lock of hair from the recently deceased through his hoisting and eventual skinning of the body. The scene fades as the viewer listens to a police report being broadcast about the body being found and the suspect being at large. This cuts to the killer running through the woods, search party and helicopters in hot pursuit. He is eventually surrounded and apprehended.
5 years later, college student Abby Jones is part of a college class taking a tour of a local sanitarium. We find out that Abbyâ€™s father was once in the same asylum before taking his own life. As Abby and the group are progressing down one hall word comes through to the guard that a â€œCode Orange Transportâ€ is being moved through the sanitarium. The group is instructed to face the wall and especially not to make eye contact with the patient. This proves to be too tempting for Abby as she turns and looks directly at the passing prisoner. He attacks her, clearly making note of her name tag, proclaiming that she is his.
Shaken by the event, Abby still continues with the tour before heading home to study with her roommates. Completely unknown to her is that the patient she had come into contact with is the same killer we saw at the beginning of the movie. Also unknown to her is the fact that the victim we saw strung up and skinned happens to be his ex-girlfriend â€“ whom Abby very closely resembles.
Later, while a storm is raging outside, Abby and her two roommates sit at home discussing guys and a tailgate party that one of them is supposed to be going to. At the same time in the nearby sanitarium, Harmon Jaxon is hardly breaking a sweat as he kills his way through one security checkpoint after another before finally exiting on a quest to find his beloved, Abby.
As Jaxon is carving a bloody path of destruction, detectives Pars (Kadeem Hardison â€“ yes, Dwayne Wayne) and Jensen (Faith Ford) are doing their best to keep up with him. Will they make it before Jaxon takes away everyone who is close to Abby? The question that is more important is whether or not they will be able to make it to Abby before Jaxon does.
A majority of the movie is somewhat predictable. Iâ€™m not going to deny that. When youâ€™ve seen a ton of movies throughout your life involving a guy going around killing a bunch of people you develop a relatively keen sense as to how these things are about to play out. Not batting an eyelash during the characterâ€™s dismissal from the movie is generally prefaced by, â€œOh hey, youâ€™re dead.â€ Escapee tends to telegraph every single one of these moments. There just seemed to be a general lack of surprise to any of the death scenes. Just, â€œOh hey, youâ€™re dead.â€
That being said, the acting was pretty good for the most part. The detectives and their chief were all believable. Abby and her roommates seemed like typical college girls. Nobody was really overdone or clichÃ©. Dominic Purcellâ€™s portrayal of Harmon Jaxon seemed to find its zenith during the aforementioned death scenes as he executes each victim with the ease and lack of concern one displays while tying their shoe. So while it wasnâ€™t hard to tell who was going to get offed and when, the way in which they were offed kind of made up for that.
While Escapee certainly isnâ€™t going to reinvent slasher movies as a whole nor will it spawn some new wave of franchises with an absurd amount of sequels, itâ€™s also not the worst horror movie Iâ€™ve ever seen. Then again, without giving too much away, it does leave itself wide open for at least one sequel â€“ and we all know (extremely well) how that can turn out.