Escape (Flukt)
Five Stars (out of five)
2012. Released by Entertainment One. Running time 79 minutes. Not rated. Has graphic violence. Has English Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. Special features include bloopers, deleted scenes, and a visual Effects Featurette . This was reviewed on DVD on June 1, 2014.

No, no, she's too short to carry all this, Hans, what were you thinking?! Young Signe (Isabel Christine Andreasen) and her family set out to make a new life for themselves in Norway in the 1300s, some ten years after the Black Plague wiped out half the population. Their trek across the countryside in a horse-drawn wagon is a dangerous one, because society, still having been toppled by the plague, has barely gotten back on its feet, what with roving gangs of murderers roaming the area. Itís not long before Singeís kind-hearted family gets their hearts ripped from their chests almost literally in a brutal scene where she watches her mother, father and little brother all get cut down by thugs.

Is that mountain goat making obscene gestures?! Signe almost joins them, were it not for the intervention of the band of thugsí leader, Dagmar (played with marvelous intensity by Ingrid BolsÝ Berdal), who decides to let her live for some reason. Taken back to the groupís mountain top hideout, accessible only a thin shaft of wood that spans a deep gorge, Signe discovers that Dagmar is a tender mother to a younger girl by the name of Frigg (Mila Olin). Signe is tied to a tree for the night and is told by Dagmar that Frigg always wanted a sister--a younger sister. When the implications of this threat become clear, Signe makes a bid for escape, with Dagmar and her boys hot on her trail.

You know, I was warned that you were a tough kid to babysit, but damn....! Escape (original title Flukt) is an enthralling story thatís as bare as the Norwegian landscape that Singe flits across. But while director Roar Uthaug keeps things simple, story wise, he ratchets up the tension and excitement by making us care for a pair of girls on the run from murderous thugs. Granted, any storyline involving children in great danger would invoke feelings of sympathy in most viewers without even trying. But the filmmakers go through the trouble of letting us get to know Singe as a person, thus making the suspense all the more unbearable.

When in doubt, go to the crossbow. They even take the trouble of letting the viewer understand Dagmarís motivation, as well. And while sheís humanized--you can understand where sheís coming from--her actions are still despicable, which illuminates the contrast involved with past victims becoming victimizers all so they can soothe their own hurt. The result is a vicious cycle of pain, over and over again. Pretty heady stuff, but Escape stays focused on its main story of a girl just trying to survive in a world thatís been flipped upside-down. Isabel Christine Andreasen is great in the lead role, and the film is so well made, so well acted, you canít take your eyes off of it. Highly recommended.

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