Portal: No Escape

Portal-No-Escape-2There have been extremely few games that have successfully transferred to the big screen. Video games in particular have a chequered past in the movie world. You only have to look at Need for Speed or Super Mario Bros to see just how difficult it is to get it right. It doesn’t stop people trying though. Of all game properties out here, an adaptation of Portal would seem like one of the unlikeliest to succeed. It is a little bit of a surprise then to find that a short film has been made that is based on the game and it is really good.

A woman named Chell (Danielle Rayne) wakes with a start in a room. It soon becomes clear that this is a prison facility of sorts. She has a barcode tattooed on the back of her neck. She focuses her mind and body in a bid to find a means of escape from the situation she finds herself in. Through physical exercise, patience and concentration, she finds a hidden panel. Behind this panel is a mysterious weapon with an Apeture Laboratories logo on it. Unlike a conventional weapon, it can create portals to travel through. Is salvation at hand?

portal-no-escape-1Fans of the game, which there are many, will love this short film. It totally relays the excitement and tension of the skills based game. There is not a single word of dialogue in the film. There is a total reliance on the story and the only human presence on screen,. Danielle Rayne carries off the role quite superbly. Her expressions and body language are able to convey her feelings more than a dozen pages of dialogue. She is physically imposing and handles the actin sequence really well.

The effects on this had to be spot on and totally believable in order to make the film stand out. They look as good as anything you will see in a major motion picture. There is a very effective use of music as well. The music helps to to set the tone of the various scenes. From bare and brooding piano chords to set the ominous start which then slowly builds with percussion and electronics for the action scenes. Very effective and very clever.

I have been a fan of the director Dan Trachtenberg for a number of years through his stint co-hosting the Internet video broadcast The Totally Rad show and his guest appearance of the Slashfilm podcast. He shows great skill in putting this together and is definitely one to watch out for in the future. He is presently working on a couple of full length movies including a low budget thriller called Valencia which is being produced by JJ Abrams.

John McArthur
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