Escape The Field is best described as 1997’s brilliant sci-fi/horror hybrid Cube and No Escape Room with a dash of In The Tall Grass thrown in. Largely this is because of the claustrophobic nature of the tall cornstalks that thrash and crackle with the promise of danger. It is also because it pits a group of people who have been mysteriously kidnapped and plopped down with no idea where they are, why they are together, or who took them. Cube gave us the same premise with a handful of brutal traps that are still powerful enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.
While Escape The Field has a similar premise, writers Emerson Moore, Sean Wathen, and Joshua Dobkin choose to focus on the means of escape. There are still dangers, namely other humans, as is so often the case, but the keys to their getaway are what’s highlighted. It’s an intelligent choice because films like the Saw franchise and What Would You Rather have saturated the market with grisly snares. Escape The Field treats the cornfield and surrounding spaces like a puzzle that needs solving. Like Escape Room, getting out is more important than why they are there.
Tyler, Army Of The Dead’s Theo Rossi, and Sam, Jordan Claire Robbins of Umbrella Academy find themselves in the middle of a cornfield with no idea how they got there and a single item to help them. Quickly they realize there are others like them, and they must band together against a deadly threat intent on picking them off one by one. The expanded group of Shane West’s(Salem) soldier Ryan, Tahirah Sharif’s(The Haunting of Bly Manor) Cameron, a defensive coder with strong opinions about what they should do, Denise(Elena Juatco of Jann), an attractive woman who is so much more than a pretty face, and Ethan(Julian Feder of A Boy Called Po) a scared prep school kid realize they all have a piece of the puzzle if only they could figure out what it all means.
They have matches, a lantern, a gun with a single bullet, a canteen with water, a compass, and a knife. Although these items have obvious purposes, they also discover they unlock clues. Each of the members of the group fills a specific archetype. Can this diverse group put their differences aside and save each other? Here’s everything you need to know about the ambiguous ending of Escape The Field and what it means for a possible sequel.
The ending of Escape The Field
After everyone but Tyler and Ryan have been killed, Sam realizes she needs to use the bullet and the knife with Tyler on parallel machines to get out. All along, she had managed to keep her wits and avoid the traps the others fell into. Denise was attacked and presumably killed by a hulking beast early on, and the others met similar fates. In some cases, they hurt each other out of fear, and in Ryan’s case, after being injected with a strange substance that gave him super strength and a nasty dose of anger. Nevertheless, he tried to control his homicidal urges despite whatever the substance was doing to him.
Ryan chose to direct his aggression toward the beast, who turned out to be an older version of him. The assumption is Ryan, and the monster were both the military personality that every group got. Based on Ryan and the other man’s eyes, they were injected with a similar solution causing them to become monsters who attacked and killed their own groups and any subsequent groups in the cornfield.
Sam used the maps she found throughout the maze on the creepy robot scarecrows jackets, a dead tree trunk, and several key cards found in various rooms to turn switches on and off in necessary positions. She then retrieved the knife from Ethan’s stomach, where he was lying next to a bonfire. Ryan protected her and squared off against the beast. He seemed to get the upper hand but fell into one of the pits and screamed in pain. Ryan is not seen again, but the fall should not have killed him more than likely.
If you pay attention during this scene, you will see piles of the same objects our group carries. There is a mountain of lanterns and numerous guns that the two men use against one another. The assumption is there have been countless groups just like this one, and the super-soldier had been killing them and stealing their items for a very long time. Ryan even asks him how he survived so long out there, alluding to the fact that this experiment must have been going on for a long time.
Meanwhile, Sam returned to Tyler, and they activated the switches thinking they had solved the final trap and would now be free. Instead, lights and sounds whirled only to stop and shut down abruptly. All of the puzzles were tests and not designed to let them out but to determine who was worthy of further study. In anger and disbelief, the two devise a plan to take matters into their own hands. Sam places dried corn stalks in the container and decides to burn the place down.
When the beast killed Tyler and attacked her, she tried to tell him she could get them out, but he said there was no getting out. She set him on fire and kicked him into the container, where she slammed the door and locked it. She then passes out, and some people in gas masks come out of the field to retrieve the bodies. At this point, the camera pulls back to reveal a larger organization, and a woman’s voice coordinates the retrieval of the subjects for phase two. As the camera continues to draw back, we see what appears to be a dark, glittering rock with geometric shapes all over. The entire structure also has a decidedly alien look. Did our group get kidnapped and transported to another planet for study?
Who survived? We don’t know, but the assumption is Sam and Ryan should be healthy enough to continue with Tyler and Denise being wild cards. We don’t see Denise after she is dragged away, and Tyler could potentially be saved if he gets prompt medical care. The voice on the radio asks that the doctor and the medical team be prepared to care for them and instructs everyone that the “primary” is priority. The assumption is Sam is the primary being the only one to solve all the puzzles but who is the “Alpha” that is also to be extracted? Could the super-soldier survive being burned alive, or is Ryan still alive and being prepped to continue where the beast left off?
We still don’t know the purpose of the experiment or what Ryan was injected with, but if there is a sequel, you can be sure we will get those answers. The cast is good, and West, Rossi, and Robbins are stars I would gladly watch again, even if it is in an undercooked copycat that we probably don’t need. Escape The Field is in select theaters and VOD everywhere today.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.