Minnesota filmmakers return home for No Escape premiere

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Last week, John Erick and Drew Dowdle made a welcome trip home to Minnesota to make an appearance at the advanced screening of their new film, No Escape, starring Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, and Pierce Brosnan. The brothers hail from the Highland Park area of St. Paul, and it was evident they were excited to be back among family and friends, who came out to support their new film.

The duo are primarily known for their work in the horror genre, with films like 2008’s Quarantine and last year’s As Above, So Below. Their latest flick, No Escape, is not a traditional horror film. There is an intensity that may be familiar to horror aficionados, however, as the plot follows an American family who tries to escape to safety when a coup breaks out in Asia while traveling.

So, did their work in the horror genre help shape some of the more intense moments?

“With horror, it’s so focused on pacing and suspense," says John Erick. "A lot of those tools really served us well.”

“We very much wanted to make this about family, with thriller/action elements to it," Drew says. "We can’t help but add that intensity to it. It’s so natural.”

Both Wilson and Bell are known for their comedic work, but it was always the Dowdles’ intention to cast outside the box. “The core to the whole idea of the movie was to cast somebody that you haven’t seen do this very much,” Drew explains. 

Despite the high intensity of the storyline, Drew praises the actors for being so funny.

“We had a very light mood," he says. "It was a very friendly and warm set. It didn’t feel tense between takes.”

In terms of the brothers' collaboration process, they typically stick to the same roles with each project. Both will write the script together, with John Erick directing and Drew producing.

So, how do they come up with the far-out ideas featured in their films?

“It’s more fluid," John Erick quickly points out. "Drew is always scouring news and all sorts of random stuff.” However, the idea behind No Escape was inspired by real-life, as a coup broke out during John Erick’s trip to Thailand with their father.

Meanwhile, the trip back to Minnesota afforded the two time to enjoy their old haunts. When back in town, John Erick likes to head to his old stomping grounds at Snuffy’s Malt Shop off St. Clair and Cleveland. “It was my first job when I was 15. There’s just something about that that just brings me right back.” Meanwhile, Drew likes to hit up a Wild game or a Twins game when in town.

As for future plans? They're currently working on a project they would like to film in Minneapolis and northern Minnesota. Here’s hoping that can come to fruition.

No Escape is currently playing in theaters.


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