They Have Escaped: A Spoiler Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Poster for They Have Escaped. Setting is a forest. 2 figures knee on the grass facing each other. The left figure is naked except a large deer mask or headpiece. The right figure wears a furry coat so only a bent knees is visible. They also wear an animal head. The words THEY HAVE ESCAPED are surrounded by an intricate heart motif ain’t the lower part of the poster.


They Have Escaped aka He Ovat Paenneet (2014) is a Finnish mystery-drama feature film available on Netflix U.K. It is 1 hour 41 minutes in duration and rated 15 U.K.


Two teenage outcasts run away from a halfway house and embark on a rambling cross-country journey.


Roosa Söderholm as Raisa
Teppo Manner as Joni
Petteri Pennilä
Jari Pehkonen
Sara Paavolainen
Pelle Heikkilä
Marja-Liisa Lius


Writers: Pilvi Peltola, J.-P. Valkeapää
Director: J.-P. Valkeapää
Composer: Helge Slikker
Cinematographer: Pietari Peltola
Editor: Mervi Junkkonen

⚠️ There is the possibility of spoilers ⚠️


I had no idea what to expect from this film that I stumbled over on Netflix. Being Finnish I was fully prepared for it to be a bit “out there”. How “out there” did it actually go? How did I feel while watching it, once it was finished and now, a couple of days later? I like to spend time after watching any film to let it percolate.

Taking my usual tack I’ll start with the things I liked about this film, in fact, really liked about it. I loved the direction and the cinematography! It added so much to the atmosphere and tension and combined with generally excellent sound design and music produced much that was good to watch.

I particularly liked the range of music chosen and where it was used. The soundtrack included Pavane Op. 50 (Orchestral Version, 1887) by Daniel Barenboim, Edinburgh Festival Chorus & Orchestre De Paris and The Ragtime Betty by Morten Gunnar Larsen.

Just as the Swedish film The Giant that I reviewed recently, They Have Escaped also has surreal and dreamlike sequences (at least one being powered by psychoactive drugs). These were some of the main aspects of this film that I loved.

I would have preferred a bit longer spent establishing more about the characters at the start and their motivations for running away together. I did find that no matter how much time I spent with our duo I didn’t much care for them. I was wondering whether this would change substantially by the end. I thought the performances were generally very solid.

For much of this film, once our intrepid “explorers” have taken off it runs as a relatively normal road trip movie, with part of the “trip” being drug-induced.

There is a twist and it’s a good one for what it is. And this was the issue for me, it comes far too late in the film and feels quite disjointed. I do love a good twist (the nastier or more disturbing the better to be honest) but I prefer to have some clever hints given that you only realise are hints later. I’m not convinced this had any. And did I care enough about our duo? Not really.

Gosh, there is much to like about this film but fundamentally it suffers from the writing. It left me with a feeling that the parts are greater than the whole. I would say it is worth a watch for all the good things about it but I won’t rewatch it.


6 Award Wins & 8 Nominations

Wins include:
Göteborg Film Festival (2015) ~ Sven Nyqvist Cinematography Award
Jussi Awards (2015) ~ Best Film, Best Direction, Best Sound Design, Best Editing


More Finnish Film Reviews:

For those who are fans of Nordic/Scandi TV shows and films there is a great affiliated Facebook Page:

This online publication also has its own Facebook Page with a wide variety of content:

Also on Facebook is the group More Than Only Walter Presents which has its focus firmly on non-English language TV shows, films, dramas and documentaries:

More TV Reviews:

More Non-Spoiler Reviews:

More Spoiler Reviews:

More Film Reviews:

Thanks for reading this article, please feel free to comment