Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
March 10th, 2020

Escaping the Dead

Directed by Martin Sonntag
Written by Bastian Brinch Pederson, Martin Sonntag
Starring Bastain Brinch Pederson, Sune Rolf Jensen, Kim Sonderholm
76 mins

Well folks, I think I have blundered on a piece of low-budget horror amazement lurking in your video store shelves (assuming any have actually survived the last few years). They call it "Escaping the Dead," and it's a bit of a throwback. You used to see movies like this show up all the time on video store shelves, but with the decline of the video store, so too went these.

"Escaping the Dead" follows David, a pot dealer who has a particular fondness for his product. In fact, he's commonly seen smoking said product rather than selling it. When a new drug with some horrifying side effects hits town, David sees an opportunity to get out from under the debt he's been racking up by sampling his product to excess. David believes he's selling outrageously cheap cocaine, but what he's actually selling is a disaster that's about to bury Copenhagen under an outbreak of the living dead.

Interestingly, the movie actually has a connection to real-world events. The drug in question is based on Krokodil, a real-world flesh-eating horror of a drug that did some horrendous things to folks back in the early 2010s. In fact, this movie is said to be based somewhat on the "face eating incident in Florida," based on the IMDB summary.

And man, this sucker's going to get serious right away. Chunks-of-flesh-falling-off serious. And that's before the eating starts.

Fair warning: this is not a "get-some-popcorn" kind of movie. You're probably better off not eating anything within about an hour of watching this. And no, you're not hallucinating: this movie is presented wholly in Danish, with subtitles. I don't know the last time I've seen a horror movie presented in a foreign language, either. Normally, Danish horror tends toward the comic, but this is much more straight horror than I've seen from them.

Sadly, it's also not particularly good. So low-budget that it's painful, and so gore-soaked that it feels like it's trying frantically to distract you from how low-budget it is. It might make a solid anti-drug piece, between the disastrous fates of drug dealers and the equally disastrous fates of drug users, but for a jolly Saturday night's entertainment, this thing is about as hygge as gargling razor wire.

There are plenty of plot holes, too; check out the "dead inside" signs that crop up across boarded-up windows, despite the fact that, by my best guess, the zombie apocalypse started about 12 hours prior to the windows being seen boarded up. Zombie physics are janky at best, with sprinters intermingling with shamblers with little in the way of reason to connect the two.

The ending is appropriately action-packed in the "we're in Europe so our access to firearms is limited" sort of way, but it's oddly nonsensical. Worse, it shares the common zombie movie flaw in that it stops as opposed to ends. The ending doesn't seem connected to much else, and could have led to a whole new sequence, except the movie quite obviously ran out of time. Or maybe money.

Special features are limited to a set of trailers covering the films "Bacchanalia," "Atomic Punks," and "Hellcats Revenge."

All in all, unless you're truly desperate for messy, low-budget, overseas zombie horror, stay away from "Escaping the Dead." Trust me on this; if you escape from this one, you'll save about an hour and 15 minutes worth of unpleasantness and heartbreak.