Escape the Field (2022) poster

Escape the Field (2022)


USA. 2022.


Director – Emerson Moore, Screenplay – Joshua Dobkin, Emerson Moore & Sean Wathen, Producers – Simon Baxter, Andrew Davies Gans, Evangelo Kioussis, Emerson Moore, Jason Moring & Michael Philip, Photography – Stephen Whitehead, Music – Will Musser, Special Effects Supervisor – Derek Liscoumb, Production Design – Michael McShane. Production Company – Anacapa Pictures/Cr8iv DNA.


Jordan Claire Robbins (Sam), Theo Rossi (Tyler), Shane West (Ryan), Tahirah Sharif (Cameron), Elena Juatco (Denise), Julian Feder (Ethan), Emerson Moore (Businessman)


Sam wakes up in the middle of a cornfield with no idea of how she came to be there. She encounters others, all of whom last remember being at home or asleep and have no idea how they came to be there. Each has been left with a single item, which between them includes a gun, a lantern, a container of matches, a compass, a knife and a water bottle. As they make their way through the endless cornfield, they discover there is a pattern to the layout and that there are various clues directing them to find a way out, where each of the items has a significance. At the same time, they discover there is something in the field that is hunting them and attacking various among the group.

Escape the Field was a directorial debut for Emerson Moore. Moore shot the film in the midst of the Corona Virus pandemic, apparently because the small cast and outdoor locations made it a small shoot that was quickly able to get up and running. Moore can be spotted in the film in a very brief role as a businessman that stumbles out of the cornfield in a bedraggled state.

Before I even began watching Escape the Field, I was immediately making comparisons to In the Tall Grass (2019), the Vincenzo Natali film based on a novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill. In both films, a group of people become trapped in a seemingly endless cornfield and search for a way out, amid mysterious things going on.

Both films also draw from Cube (1997), which was also directed by Vincenzo Natali, in which a group of people ended up trapped in a vast maze comprised of identical rooms, some of which turned out to be death traps. Cube and its puzzlebox concept has inspired a number of other films over the years – I have a listing of these others here under Labyrinth Films.

Theo Rossi, Jordan Claire Robbins, Shane West, Elena Juatco and Julian Feder trapped in a cornfield in Escape the Field (2022)
(l to r) Theo Rossi, Jordan Claire Robbins, Shane West, Elena Juatco and Julian Feder trapped in a cornfield labyrinth

In In the Tall Grass, King and Hill never seemed much interested in offering an explanation for the nature of the cornfield. There was something to do with a stone at the centre but it felt like it needed more explanations than it received. Escape the Field could have been construed as the film that answers those questions. Rather than characters finding their way through a mysterious cornfield, what we have here feels more like Escape Room (2019) and one of its sequels or copycat films in which the characters make their way through a maze and try to piece together a series of cryptic clues that lead to a solution. Indeed, Escape the Field feels exactly like a version of In the Tall Grass that was rewritten by someone who was an escape room fan.

Escape the Field works okay, although I feel like I may have been impressed by it more if it didn’t seem such a blatant copy of In the Tall Grass. One thing it does do somewhat better than In the Tall Grass is the character line-up where it brings out the inherent tensions as the group are forced to come together and cooperate despite their distrust of one another.

The point where Escape the Field falls down for me is the ending. [PLOT SPOILERS]. The entire film is built up around solving a puzzle where we are told this leads to a way for the group to get out of the cornfield. But just when it comes to a point of explaining what is going on, the film goes sideways. The last shot is a pulback to a super-super wide angle that keeps on going until it covers the whole USA, but it is not clear what this means. The effect is akin to reading a whodunnit mystery with the last page of the book missing and the story left unresolved.

Trailer here

Actors: , , , , , ,
Themes: , ,