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Scape (2010)

Not Rated | | Action, Adventure, Mystery
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Based on the short story 'The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes' by Rudyard Kipling, Scape takes place in the early 1800s on the Oregon Trail. Indians attack Morrowbie's caravan and he ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Morrowbie Jukes
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Gunther
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Sarah Jukes
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Colony Woman
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Brennan
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Nom
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Village Man
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The Colonel
John Marnell ...
Thug 2
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Veronica Ripley ...
Thug 1 (as Tyler Vocelka)
Amy Schaaf ...
David Scoggins ...
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Storyline

Based on the short story 'The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes' by Rudyard Kipling, Scape takes place in the early 1800s on the Oregon Trail. Indians attack Morrowbie's caravan and he becomes separated from his wife. He walks alone through the open frontier, searching for her, when he wanders into a remote colony in the forest for the mentally ill. Once in the colony, none can leave; a mysterious and fearsome army soldier guards the boundary between the colony and freedom. With the fate of his wife looming, Morrowbie must attempt the impossible: escape. Written by Taegen Carter

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On the Great Frontier, there's a forest no man should enter.


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Not Rated
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$50,000 (estimated)
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A strange version of a strange ride: Morrowbie goes to Oregon.
20 February 2017 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

Scape is about a man named Morrowbie Jukes, who stumbles into a camp for the dead-alive diseased. The sick must not leave due to the danger of contagion and so they are put under guard. A single guard, who likes to hide in the forest and shoot at whoever tries to escape. The guard considers Morrowbie to be one of the inhabitants and so tries to keep him inside as well. Now he has to enlist the help of Gunga Dass, one of his former servants, to escape and get back to his wife.

The movie is based on Rudyard Kipling's short story called The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes, although with a few alterations. Now, Rudyard Kipling was one of the really great authors of the 19th century, and the early 20th century for that matter – come to think of it, ask literary analysts to list the twenty most influential authors of the modern age (ca. 1700 to ca. 1900) and I'm pretty sure Kipling will be mentioned at least in every other list – which means that Scape has to hold a proportionally high quality to live up to its origins. Alas, it does not, not by a long shot.

But before I go into my arguments of why Scape does not satisfy the strict criteria set by the short story, I should point out the limitations of its creators. Let's begin with the $50.000 budget, which is less than that of many low-budget splatter movies. With this kind of money you can't afford to do much more than to run around in the woods in costumes, and that is exactly what happens in this movie. The people behind the camera have little experience and the director/screenwriter has only made one movie previously – that one's a low budget horror named The Shiftling – and Scape does indeed have the feeling of an amateur production; despite this the acting was mostly good enough or better. In particular I'd like to praise the role of Morrowbie Jukes, the protagonist, as portrayed by Ben Furmaniak; people have gotten paid far more for far worse, and I am sure that he's talented enough to land roles in larger productions should he care to. The camera work was also surprisingly good for the kind of production this is. It won't be praised as a work of genius but the cameramen show that they have done their homework, with one of them actually ending up landing a job in Pixar.

In other words, this movie has qualities above what it should have had, all things considered. The problem is, it just wasn't enough to make the movie work.

My primary complaint occurs to me because it is a long while since I read The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes and so my memory of it was patchy at best. So I was hoping the movie would help me fill those gaps, but it did not. I had to pause after fifteen or twenty minutes or so and re-read the short story. Afterwards the story of Scape made more sense, though still not entirely. Now, when you have to read the story which a movie is based on to understand it then that movie has a fundamental flaw, but Scape takes it yet another notch for the worse. You see, they have changed the story in a few, yet profound, ways.

First of all, the original story was set in India while Scape is set in a forest along the Oregon Trail. This poses several problems for the story, the most important of which is the camp of the living dead, or 'the dead who did not die but may not live' as the story calls them. In India these camps did exist as a place to put people suffering from contagious diseases or who at some point seemed to be dead but then were revived. This has never been a normal institution in Oregon and so its existence would require some explanation; none is given. Another problem is Gunga Dass, Morrowbie's former servant who is clearly from India. What he's doing in 19th century USA is not accounted for. Other issues include the British soldier and the gunman, but to address them here would be too revealing as plot is concerned.

The background story of Morrowbie was also changed. He used to be a rich man, but now he doesn't seem to be. (Although the movie does seem to be a bit inconsistent with regard to this, so – who knows? – he might be rich after all.) And it used to be the case that he entered the camp while in a fever daze, while the movie just has him gathering wood and thus stumbling into it. But worst of all is that the movie does not deal meaningfully with these changes, it just drops it in there, and when you go to the story for explanations you'll find that it doesn't explain anything after all because it has been altered.

Finally, the movie throws in a Halloween-esque chase sequence where the appropriate tropes are misused, sometimes badly. The most annoying bit was the lack of intelligence in the characters. Every couple of minutes the chase could have ended, but then the characters would chose the worst alternative in order for the chase to go on; it's like watching Pit and Pat do The Hunger Games.

So, in essence it is the plot which ultimately lays waste to this move. It's like a broken vase that has been glued back together poorly, with mismatching bits added and gaping seams; it could have been lovely again, but in the end turned out in a ways where one regrets using up all that glue.


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