The first to wake up in this mess is Sam (Jordan Claire Robbins), a nurse who finds a revolver in her hand. While Robbins’ performance takes some time to create a sufficiently likable character, at the start it helps present the film’s conventional style with obvious, nuanced expressions that spare the viewer any emotional work. Other characters carry it as well: dad in jeans Tyler (Theo Rossi), Afghan veteran Ryan (the hulking Shane West trying to win the Shea Whigham MVP award), a schoolboy named Ethan (Julian Feder), a Pentagon officer named Denise (Elena Juatko), and Briton named Cameron (Tahira Sharif) who wears glasses (remember this detail). None of these people know where they are or what they are supposed to do with the items they have been given, including Sam’s gun, knife, matches, compass, and more.
Now, starting the film more or less in the second act, literally plunging us into it like the first frame of this film, used to work for many B-movies and even A-movies. we sympathized with them, or didn’t roll our eyes when they suddenly break out of a monologue about where they came from. Our surrogates here become another conceit, just like the story of closed corners in a cornfield unfolds, which in itself is more of a way for someone (Cameron) to crash right into a wooden fence early on or for her to lose her points. (also Cameron). Because of this overly thin storytelling, exacerbated by hard acting and poor dialogue, the film doesn’t give you anyone to root for. You can’t even really root for the filmmakers, which is a bad place for your audience.
It takes about 35 minutes for the story to present its broader idea that it’s a puzzle story (someone announces «It’s a puzzle!»), but that doesn’t seem to give Flee the feel of good mechanics. The same goes for when he presents the map, as if there is some logic and guidance in those cornstalks for what everyone should wake up with. The strange, more monstrous elements of the story remain unloved; A look at the red-eyed super-powered horror shows that this story would have been better, or at least remembered, had it gone free.