Escape from Reality
1 Jun 2022
George Michael Liviakis
Brian Keith Crites
The given synopsis for Escape from Reality tells of a rather straightforward narrative: a mother and her son are vacationing in the Alaskan wilderness where they encounter a far-right survivalist. This can somehow be simultaneously categorised as a simplification and obfuscation of the film. Whilst these may be events that appear to happen it would be a falsehood to relate the experience in this way, or even to it as having a plot.
Escape from Reality is less of a structured narrative feature and more an experimental art piece. The substance of the film lurks beneath a veneer consisting of film grain, digital distortion, and lo-fi VFX snow. The prologue offers a premonition of the core images, woodlands, fire, and encircling wolves. Then we are briefly thrown into the trappings of modern city life: a concrete world, a Trumpian MAGA dystopia constructed of smoking towers and prison bars. And then we retreat back into the woodlands again. Repetition is to be expected throughout, particularly of animal based imagery. Bears, wolves, and swooping bald eagles feature heavily in the hypnotic collage. So too do a primal collective of caves, waterfalls, fire, and smoke. Director George Michael Liviakis compiles these to reflect a violent and chaotic world, one of regression and base instincts. But these images do not offer up much food for thought, they do not linger in the mind, and they certainly do not seem to amalgamate into any clear or interesting boundary pushing idea.
It isn’t just the visuals that are noisy. The audio design is dominated by crackling white noise, waterfalls and wind. The dialogue is considered secondary to the abrasive soundscape. It is often hard to discern quite what is being said, with just the outline of syllables flowing through the undercurrent of the audio track. This approach may encourage feelings of displacement, but it does not do enough to heighten the impact of the visual language of the piece.
Escape from Reality is clearly an ambitious project but ultimately it is doesn’t provoke much of a reaction. Regretfully, it must be said that it is more trying than testing.