Country: Finland / others
Movie Review: J.P. Valkeapaa demonstrates why he is a filmmaker to keep in mind, after presents us with “They Have Escaped”, the second feature of his career. In a small Finnish town, two misfits meet at a halfway house for troubled teenagers, initiating a caustic adventure that will change their lives forever. Reserved and quiet, Joni (Teppo Manner), of 19 years old, arrives to the facility with the mission of confiscating illegal substances, after having fled the military service due to stuttering. He was given no choice, since it’s that work or jail. Despite the warnings that strictly forbade him to make friends or hang out with the teenage dwellers, he becomes attracted to the 17 year-old, Raisa (Roosa Soderholm), a rebellious bleached-hair punk with red lips and heavy dark eyeshadow, helping her to get away with stolen cigarettes. Together, they will take the road of adventure towards Raisa’s home, plus a brief visit to her grandma. Guided by vague dreams and hopes of a more exciting future, this escapade won't be devoid of perturbation and mishaps along the way. Forced to steal and ask for a ride, they end up being caught in a final macabre experience that marks a radical change in the direction taken initially. The moments of enjoyment are as many as the afflictive ones, but “They Have Escaped” transforms itself into a really dark, claustrophobic experience that can be disconcerting in its last minutes due to its baffling final scene. It’s a shame that Valkeapaa only has created hypnotic dreamlike ambiances for brief moments, but the film benefits with strong performances, an impactful sound design, and the contrasting humor/terror of the tale. It works both as a social criticism and a cutting experiment on horror, set up in unrelenting tones.