No Escape (internationally known as Follow Me) is the story of a social media influencer/Youtube personality who flies to Moscow with his friends for an exclusive escape room experience. Things go from fun to f--ed up very fast. No Escape/Follow Me stars Keegan Allen, Holland Roden, George Janko, Denzel Whitaker, Siya, and Ronen Rubinstein.
The No Escape ending will make you want to rewatch the movie to look for clues leading up to it.
No Escape was released in September 2020, but it became available on Hulu in January 2021. The Hulu release means that more people need to unpack the No Escape ending. There is a lot to say about this fascinating movie. Let’s explore it together. Warning No Escape ending spoilers ahead.
What Happened At The End Of No Escape
By the end of No Escape, all of Cole's (Keegan Allen) friends have died, and then he finds his girlfriend Erin (Holland Roden). She’s being tortured by Andrei (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). Cole shoots Andrei but it does nothing. Andrei then shoots Erin in the head, and Cole is locked in a room. While grieving, he notices a way out of the room.
Once he’s free, Alexei (Ronen Rubinstein) is standing there with Cole’s phone recording and taunting him about losing everything. Cole attacks Alexei. Alexei pleads with him and tells him that no one is dead. None of this is real, but in a mad rage, Cole beats his face in and kills Alexei. Then a video starts playing on screens in the warehouse. Everything was fake.
All the people involved in his plan, including Cole’s alive friends, appear. This was a prank to help him celebrate the tenth anniversary of his Youtube success. Seeing Alexei’s dead body, everyone stares at Cole in shock and horror. The film then fades to black on a devastated Cole.
While the credits roll, the audience sees a montage of Cole’s friends planning this surprise, including how they faked all their deaths.
Casey Neistat, Logan Paul And How Vloggers Influenced No Escape
I believe the most interesting element of No Escape is its discussion of social media and Youtube fame. The film centers around Cole who is this 20-something who grew up in front of the camera. His adult life and career have been about bringing his followers these heightened experiences. No Escape is about how that lifestyle has affected his life and sense of reality.
No Escape director Will Wernick discussed with LRM Online how Youtubers like Casey Neistat and Logan Paul influenced the idea for the movie. He said while developing the idea, he watched many vloggers and he found them fascinating. They create these fake realities and personas, and then that starts to affect their real lives. He thought the concept mirrored the idea of escape rooms, which also creates false realities. Social media influencers losing touch with reality is a constant theme we see in real life. Some become obsessed with capturing content and pushing themselves to do the next big thing.
This can lead to losing some of their humanity. Cole is an example of this. We watch as he can’t go more than a few minutes without turning on the camera and slipping into his Youtube persona. We see how this is hurting his relationship with Erin.
Wernick clearly put a lot of thought into making No Escape a good imitation of vlogger lifestyle, including their social circle. If you watch Youtubers, you know they often hang out with certain people, other vloggers (George Janko’s character), childhood friends (Denzel Whitaker’s character), semi-celebrities, usually former child stars or children of celebrities (Siya’s character), and a significant other who stays out of the spotlight (Holland Roden’s character).
How No Escape Told And Showed The Twist Ending
There are many instances where the film has a cheeky nod to what’s really happening. For example, one of the Russians tells Cole and his friends that they’re screwed, which was part of the whole prank on Cole, but it also hints to the end. The No Escape ending screwed Cole and all his friends over because Cole murders someone.
Then Alexei tells Cole and his friends that they’re in no danger and none of this is real. Of course, this is just what most people are told before entering a haunted house or such, but it’s also clearly Wernick winking to the audience about none of the deaths being real.
Upon first viewing, I figured out the twist when Dash (Janko) and Thomas (Whitaker) didn’t die in the first torture chamber. Anyone who watches a lot of horror films knows that most likely, after Cole solved the puzzle correctly, the machines would have started back up and took out one of his friends, likely Thomas.
The film then confirmed my No Escape ending twist suspicions when all the deaths were easy ones to fake. We also never really saw any of this torture, we just heard it and saw some fake blood. On Night Terrors Radio, Wernick addressed that we’re seeing the film from Cole’s perspective, so we only see what he sees and he never sees any real torture.
I noticed during the second viewing that Holland Roden’s character Erin makes the twist obvious several times. First, she tries to warn Cole at the cafe, then she gives him a sort-of goodbye style kiss when they’re in the car right before the escape room, then you see her exchange some co-conspirator glances at the waiter at the cafe, and she’s shown trying not to laugh/smile during the beginning of the escape room experience and while in the tank.
Will Wernick very much lets you know what’s going to happen in the end throughout the movie.
The No Escape Cast And Internet Fame
In the interview with LRM and one with World Film Geek, Will Wernick discussed why he cast Keegan Allen in the main role. He mentioned Allen’s huge social media following and how that helped him embody the character in an interesting way. Allen and Holland Roden are both best known for series that have a huge cult following, Pretty Little Liars and Teen Wolf. So they’re talented actors who have a huge built-in fan base that their social media presence helps them maintain.
Allen also gave StyleCaster some insight into his connection with Cole:
Everybody that has social media can understand that either on the micro or macro level. Whether someone has millions of followers or someone has 168 followers, they will notice a difference when they post because there is a self awareness of an audience. There’s a personality you have to upkeep.
George Janko came onto the project because he auditioned for it, but he added a unique perspective to No Escape. George Janko is a Youtuber, close friends with Logan Paul, and has a big social media following, so he’s basically a Cole-type character in real life. Janko shared on Watch of Pass that he was able to give the actors advice on how they could make it look more like real vloggers.
Everyone got the role because they fit the character, but casting main characters who understand the vlogging and social media lifestyle gives No Escape an extra meta layer.
Why The No Escape Ending Changes The Film's Tone And Messages
I think most people who started watching No Escape expected a Saw-like horror film. Instead, No Escape is more of a thriller with horror movie elements. In the Night Terrors Radio interview, Wernick even credits David Fincher’s The Game with influencing No Escape (many horror fans will also draw a comparison to 1986’s April Fool’s Day).
The No Escape ending changes this film from a horror thriller to a cautionary tale. It becomes less of a fun gore-fest and more of a sad look at how social media extremes can have dire consequences. Cole’s friends wanted to go bigger for his 10th anniversary, and in doing so, they went too far. Not only did they traumatize Cole, but they now drove him to kill someone.
Most likely, Cole will end up in a psychiatric ward, and his friends will be charged with some type of crime, because their actions in planning all this could make them compliant in the murder. One person lost his life, and others now have ruined their own, all because of the need to create this extreme experience. Additionally, if Cole didn’t have to have his life on camera, there wouldn’t be this clear video footage of him committing the murder, with thousands of witnesses.
Like the film Spree, No Escape is another interesting film that shines a light on vlogging and social media influencer culture. I expect we will see more movies of this kind in the next few years. You can find No Escape/Follow Me on Hulu, along with some other great content coming soon. Stream it here.