Nothing says ‘fun weekend experience’ like sticking a bunch of people in a room and leaving them to turn on one another. Such is the tried, tested but cleverly tweaked method used to an effective degree in Escape Room, the latest horror that’s surprisingly light on gore and scares, but all the better for it.
Helmed by a director that has previously delved in the supernatural, Insidious: The Last Key and The Taking of Deborah Logan‘s Adam Robitel instead keeps his feet, and ours, as firmly within reality as he can with his latest venture. The surprisingly fun film sees a group of strangers invited to a mysterious escape room event, which will see the winner walk away with a comfy $10,000 reward. All but one of the entrants are ill-prepared for what’s in store, as the game begins the second they meet. From then on, a strange but fun mix of Saw and Jumanji unfolds, and you’ll be struggling not to get involved.
In comparison to Robitel’s earlier effort, the danger zone doesn’t feel that intense, but that’s not to say there’s a lot of fun to be had as this golden ticket win from hell rolls on. An Escape Room demands smart and distinct characters, and the entrants of this one thankfully fit the bill, for the most part. Though it may take some a while for the penny to drop that they’re playing with their own lives (it’s a horror film, after all – IQ levels can’t be too high), each stands out, while still gelling together effectively as they work through some impressive trials. It’s these ingenious constructions and the contraptions that are set to eradicate their inhabitants what make the rooms themselves the star of the show.
While there’s no doubt a bunch of green screens dotted around every frame, the designs of each chin-scratching arena deserve a lot of recognition. You can only imagine that the research team behind this had an absolute field day when making their little puzzle palace and it shows. It’s also a benefit that cast work well together, even when they don’t and the fight for survival kicks in.
The only glaring issue from this film that’s begging to get a sequel is the one thing escape rooms usually don’t have problems with – the runtime. As the film reaches its close, it doesn’t know whether to call it a day and has many comfortable cliffhangers it could’ve landed on. Instead, we’re forced to look behind the curtain, which anyone who’s entered a real escape room knows, ultimately sucks the fun out of everything. Here’s hoping that when we get another turn in Escape Room, it’ll be a perfect piece to a puzzle that could be worth revisiting.