The Girl Who Got Away

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Girl Who Got Away
"There's some great work in the first half of this film, with a smart script and decent performances all round. It has the makings of a really strong thriller."

It opens on a dark night, on a lonely road. A man is driving home with his young son when they catch sight of a woman among the trees, clutching what might be a weapon in her hand, her white clothing covered in blood. The boy wants to stop and help her, but the father knows he can't take the risk. Later, however, when he spots a small girl by the side of the road, he pulls over. The events that follow are disturbing enough for the father and son, but nothing to what the girl has been through - or, as it turns out, the other girls who were held captive alongside her, none of whom have survived.

That was 20 years ago. When we catch up with the girl again she's a full grown adult, teaching in a primary school and planning to adopt, having apparently put her past behind her. All her plans are thrown into disarray, however, when a police officer (Chukwudi Iwuji, whose performance is easily the most impressive thing in the film) turns up at her door and tells her that the serial killer who murdered her parents and terrorised her for years has escaped from a prison transport vehicle and is once again at large.

With any number of slasher franchises having played the 'Oh no, the killer is back!' card in the past, viewers will be relieved to hear that this film has more up its sleeve, but that doesn't mean it stints on the gore, nor on the traumatised responses of its heroine, as bodies begin to pile up. Nobody close to the terrified teacher seems to be safe, which doesn't stop the cop from indulging in a bit of flirtation - but if he really up to something else? Something about the case bothers him. The detective who handled it at the time just wants it to go away, afraid that there will be further embarrassment for the department which initially mishandled it. Did the first investigation miss something - and if so, what could that mean for the only survivor?

There's some great work in the first half of this film, with a smart script and decent performances all round. It has the makings of a really strong thriller, but alas, as the bodies pile up, credulity is stretched further and further. With so many people being offed and little real corresponding change in the emotional tone of the film, it becomes difficult to keep track of who's dead and who's alive, or know why we should care. Less would definitely have been more in a film which ultimately squanders its potential to surprise and instead relies on cheesy shock tactics by way of an ending.

Despite these failings, that early work is well worth watching and the film still has more going on overall than most similar genre fare. As long as you don't invest too heavily in its early promise, you'll find it a passable piece of entertainment.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2021
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The Girl Who Got Away packshot
A serial killer escapes from prison, with dramatic consequences for the one girl who escaped her clutches.

Director: Michael Morrissey

Writer: Michael Morrissey

Starring: Lexi Johnson, Chukwudi Iwuji, Kaye Tuckerman, Anni Krueger, Willow McCarthy

Year: 2021

Runtime: 116 minutes

Country: US

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