Escape Room. Just to clarify, this is a review for Escape Room, not Escape Room, or the other Escape Room. Got it? Good.
That’s right, three movies all released essentially within a year of one another, all of them with a similar premise, all of them confusingly called Escape Room. Why couldn’t the producers have had a conversation and decided which would be called Escape Room, which would be Escape The Room, and which would be Escape? I’ve typed ‘Escape’ so many times now that I’m not sure I’m even spelling it correctly any more, and the Laptop is making a Sticky Keys noise at me.
I devised my own system for remembering which is which – there’s the big budget one which made it to Cinemas on a wide release (and has had a sequel which I’m now calling Escape 2room), there’s the one with Skeet Ulrich, and there’s the other one. This is the big budget one. Having watched all of them, I imagine I’ll get around to reviewing the others at some point. But this is the biggest, and probably the best.
The film starts with our six several characters being given a mysterious puzzle box which, once solved, presents them with an invitation to an Escape Room for the chance to win a big sack of cash. Any right thinking person would begin tingling at this point – spidey sense tingling – and move to another country because this is at best some cultish pyramid scheme and at worst the opening to the latest Saw movie. However, the people are intrigued and enticed by the promise of sudden wealth and meet each other in an anonymous office block. Almost immediately, the game begins but unbeknownst to the players, it’s a game of life or death. They must work together to solve a variety of rooms while possibly discovering why they were brought together, and who is doing this to them.
While the Saw comparisons are apt, and while the film gleefully recalls similar properties such as Cube, it’s a less visceral film. While there are plenty of inventive deaths, it doesn’t approach torture porn and is a much more mainstream type of horror. In many cases these films fall apart or hold together based on how likeable the characters are and how believable the story is. The characters are varied enough and have enough in built conflict to be engaging – there’s the scarred veteran, the gamer nerd, the Wall Street type, the innocent, the normie, the old guy – and while the story is ridiculous the script has the nous to keep everything fairly grounded. Putting aside the wealth and planning involved to develop such a scheme, the story relies less on contrivances than the Saw series. Unlike many films of this ilk, the film continues after the games end as we begin expanding the lore and posing more questions while giving snippets of answers. It’s clear that we’re being set up for a franchise, but like Alice In Borderland and Squid Game if the lore and questions are interesting then I’m happy to see more.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Escape Room!
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