Hang on, where are we now? We’ve cycled back to the last choice. I thought I’d finished it! And where are the comments? What am I choosing? This doesn’t seem very easy. Stop the negativity, this is the New Day; positivity rules! And it’s just a bit of fun, isn’t it? Let’s dive into Escape the Undertaker, now available on Netflix.
As Matthew Razak tells us in The Escapist, ‘Clearly, this one shouldn’t be taken too seriously’. By having the Undertaker in his wrestling dotage and the Day-Glo delights The New Day participate and no one else, we’re being told that this isn’t Saw.
There isn’t just a bit of fun at stake here though. In my view, the WWE (and WWF in the past) crave legitimacy.
There’s often been a feeling that wrestling has a bit of a smell to it – marks, carny, work – all these can be seen as insults and have often been seen as such.
Some people see wrestling as something which is done in the shadows and a bit odd. Whilst we fans celebrate our love, it’s not for nothing that those more bankable wrestlers only become popular in Hollywood when they leave the squared circle.
I think that’s what the attempts to enter the ‘legitimate’ arts and sports are all about, the XFL for instance and just look at No Holds Barred (not for long, your eyes will bleed).
Escape the Undertaker is a linkup with Netflix. That’s good demographic spread. They are big and are players in the former Hollywood film world.
It’s good to rub shoulders with them. And they’ve offered interactive pieces before, so this should work well, right?
This is quite sweet and a little hokey. The set of the Undertaker’s mansion in a bit Saw via Hanna-Barbera. It has the feel of those Fighting Fantasy books; you know, do you choose 115 or 68? 68. Oh, you’ve died. That sort of thing.
Basic story? The New Day, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston (Kofimania seems a long way away now) and current Vince preference Big E want the Undertaker’s urn. For some reason. We’re not told why, they just want it, OK?
They’re so damned positive, they might have come straight from the mystery machine; hang on, which one’s Velma?
Anyway, here’s my experience. First of all we see Undie with Paul Bearer in the WWF/E.
Yes, it’s that iteration of the ‘Taker, not the biker, the cult leader, the dressing room leader or the construction worker (not that last one, that was Steven Regal), the hat and blank eyes ‘Taker.
Challenge accepted. Presumably if you don’t, Mean Mark asks you in for a cup of coffee and shortbread finger. I don’t know because…
…there is no text on any of the choice buttons. They’re a fetching shade of neon pink, which you’ll see a lot in this film, so choices are not informed at all.
Not that this matters too much. And there is a chance to undo the last choice if you feel you’ve really screwed up.
Early on the New Day see a spooky grandfather clock and a smoky curtain. Well, I’m terrified.
Xavier has the best chance here, the dialogue is basic and boring, but he seems to deliver those lines with some conviction.
Now, here’s my journey. I tried a few different options, but I won’t tell you them in case I spoil your fun. Or actually, ‘fun’.
I followed Xavier. He approaches some dry ice, reasoning ‘It’s OK, it’s just fog.’ He then hears E calling for him and they find him tied to a chair with silly looking energy bands.
And then he’s free. I didn’t see why, I might have been rolling my eyes.
They need a key to open the metal doodad around the urn, see? And they’d better hurry, because E doesn’t feel good, he might be thinking about all those matches with Bobby Lashley.
We keep cutting to a grate with a fire. It’s an establishing shot. Sort of demonic. Sort of warming.
Now they’re in a morgue. It’s very ‘Saw’. On the slab? A covered up body with ‘Isaac Yankem’ on the tag; sadly Glenn doesn’t pop up. There’s the key! Xavier goes for it as E is ‘…not touching Undertaker’s fog’.
Oops, sorry Xavier, I’ve put you in a dark room with the Undertaker. He does that passing by quickly horror film thing. And then does that punch him in the face wrestling thing. Undie has some sort of neon pink power and desperately wants Xav to sell out his friends, they don’t like him, apparently.
And he’s back with the others in the urn room. With the key. And it doesn’t work. That dastardly Deadman! They need a second key, so I’ll have to continue.
Oh, there’s the voice; ‘soon the ritual will be complete’, thank goodness, I thought it was only half over!
‘Taker’s library. No JK Rowling. Lots of taxidermy. E pockets a vial with ‘Power’ written on it, saying ‘gotta be useful for something’ – you don’t say…
Whilst his 2 pals are engrossed with a crocodile, he finds a secret passageway which sends him to a room with old wrestling on the TV and then whaddya know…
…he’s in an air conditioning unit. Very Alien. And lots of other horror movies. He too thinks he hears his mates dissing him. And suddenly they have the second key.
No, I’m not sure how it happened, must be on a different journey.
You know they get the urn free, don’t you? But before they do, they are warned they have to face their darkest fear.
The New Day are a fun loving lot. So they touch it anyway.
I chose all 3, but let’s go with…
E. If you don’t like spiders, look away now. He’s given the choice; join me, or go through it. And you’re given the –
Eventually they all fight the rolling eyes Undertaker. Won’t say too much about this except a metal plate is brought into use.
The Deadman has either grown his hair or is wearing a wig (he’s bald when he says goodbye to us later) and his hair starts very far back in his head. He looks a bit like 70’s comedian Max Wall…
They do eventually make it out, enjoying the walk in the sunshine.
And I’m back to the bit where they all touch the urn. This is halfway through! Is it a glitch? Is it me? I don’t know because there are no titles on the choice buttons…
…and this meant I did half the thing again. It wasn’t fun. And yes, they escaped. On my journey. Yours may be different. Yours may be fun.
The message seems to be that we have to work together, being together is the best way to be. And yet the WWE class their wrestling talent as ‘independent contractors’ and they just cut lots of talent…
This is a hokey, clunky, cartoonish piece of work with a small amount of choices and a basic storyline.
It’s Saw mixed with reality TV haunting shows and doesn’t do either justice. But that’s my journey.
That legitimacy might have to wait.
Mine is not to play Escape the Undertaker again.