NETFLIX | SHORT FILM
WWE Films make notoriously great Oscar films. We all cried when John Cena survived a gas station explosion that would leave Michael Bay in shambles in The Marine. We all stood and clapped when Stone Cold Steve Austin made a “Yo Mamma” joke despite being a falsely imprisioned man on death row in The Condemned. John Cena made Daniel Day Lewis look like an rookie when he did whatever he did in 12 Rounds. So, once I caught wind that they made a straight to Netflix interactive movie where the New Day break into The Undertaker’s house to steal a magic urn (Don’t ask, they’ll never tell), I was there day 1. What did I get?
I have never heard or seen director Ben Simms work. So, he came into this movie with a clean slate with me. This was obviously low budget and was probably told to make this look like a made for TV Cartoon Network movie. He did fine within this boundaries and actually got good performances from his leads who are not trained actors. For a movie being simply a product that was probably made on the cheap and quickly, it managed to have an identity. Looks no better or worse than any of those live action Scooby Doo movies. Which is fine for this.
The New Day break into the Undertaker’s house to steal his magical Urn. The Undertaker (the villain of this piece mind you) is unhappy about this and wants to turn them on each other or kill them or something. It’s all based on your choices as you help navigate the trio through the house. The movie does a good enough job filling you in on who these people are, but it would be to your benefit to be a wrestling fan watching this, because you may be a tad lost otherwise. But it’s a basic haunted house/slasher plot toned down for kids. It’s not offensively bad or mundane. The interactive feature does help keep the viewer engaged. It’s incorporated nicely.
CHARACTERS / ACTING
It may shock you when I tell you that The Undertaker is no Robert Englund. The New Day consisting of Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods are no Heather Langenkamp, Jamie Lee Curtis or Thom Matthews. But they all give serviceable for non-trained actors. The New Day’s chemistry and charisma does lift the movie up a bit. It helps the audience stay with the material in-between choices. The 4 men do fine. They do what was expected of them.
The visuals are traditionally terrible. There is a scene near the end where The Undertaker basically becomes Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars and the lightning effects were astonishingly bad. However, that really does add to the charm. This is a B movie at its core and it embraces that. I think the movie would be worse off with actual good special effects. Because there is a charm to how bad they look in a movie like this. I will say they did a really good job building a standard spooky house. They probably dropped Spirit Halloween a nice little check the day before cameras rolled.
Sound design was pretty bad here. Dialogue was sometimes drowned out by the ambient music. Which is a big problem when it happens right before it is time to make a choice. Without context it makes the decision making more confusing than engaging. Also, using the actual theme music of the wrestlers was not only tacky, but mixed in weird. It didn’t sound like they layered it in correctly. Just more could have been done in that department.
Go in with some friends, maybe some drinks and you’ll have a good time. If you are a parent with young kids who are wrestling fans, you will not be miserable playing along with your kid. There is enough campiness and fun to be had here. Go in with the right expectations and you’ll have fun too. Of all the interactive movies I’ve seen, this is one of the better ones. It didn’t just feel like a video game, it actually felt like there was some skin on this skeleton.
ESCAPE THE UNDERTAKER is available NOW on Netflix!