Escape Room is a psychological thriller about six adventurous strangers who are given mysterious black boxes with tickets to an immersive escape room for a chance to win tons of money. After traveling to a mysterious building to experience the escape room, they become locked in several rooms with extreme conditions that becomes a maze of deadly mystery rooms where they must compete in a game to solve a series of puzzles and discover the secrets behind the escape room while learning that they must fight to survive, and find their way out in an attempt to win $10,000 in prize money. What starts out as seemingly innocent fun soon turns into a living nightmare as the four men and two women discover each room is an elaborate trap that’s part of a sadistic game of life or death.
I think the first thing I’ll say about this film is, don’t watch any trailers and don’t go in with any high expectations. If you do either, I’m betting this one will be a disappointment to you. If you do decide to follow this advice, you’ll most likely come out pleasantly surprised. Every trailer out there tells way too much of, not only the story and plot but that of the twists and fates of the characters. Way too many details have been revealed and that’s just damned sad. I also wouldn’t consider this much of a horror movie, it was more like an intense action/thriller, however, with all of that out of the way, I’ll now get on with the review.
Escape Room revolves around six desperate individuals who have received a personal invitation to attend the Minos Escape Room for a chance to win an extremely large sum of money. They are required to participate in the evaluation of a new virtual reality game which places them into frightening and very realistic life-threatening situations. They must survive the bizarre events in the game while gathering clues so that they are able to escape each of the rooms by using their wits and problem-solving skills. As the game intensifies, it becomes more and more apparent to the players that the events are real and not imaginary, and that the six strangers have more in common than they originally realized.
Escape Room begins with what looks like some guy, who we learn later is Ben (Logan Miller) dropping out of the ceiling right into the middle of some room, with the walls very quickly closing in around him. You don’t get to see the outcome of this event because the film then immediately goes back to Chicago three days earlier. The next few minutes we get to learn a little bit (VERY little) of history on a handful of the main characters in the film, one being a very shy college student named, Zoey (Taylor Russell), who seems to be extremely bright since it’s revealed that she is taking a quantum physics class. The other two people we meet are Ben, and Jason (Jay Ellis), a very rude and shrewd businessman.
Meanwhile, Zoey’s college professor encourages her to try going outside of her comfort zone and to try something scary and spontaneous during the Thanksgiving break that’s coming up. He eventually sends her a mysterious black box, which she finally manages to open. Inside the box contains a single invitation to participate in an escape room contest. We then learn that five other people have received the same invitation, where it is later learned what the connection between these six people is, and the usually shy and socially withdrawn Zoey never realizes that her problem-solving strengths will soon become her ticket to survival.
The puzzle rooms are all insane and absolutely brilliant. Once the six players arrive at the building, they quickly learn that the waiting room is actually the first puzzle in the escape room game. It’s a giant oven that continuously heats up more and more as they desperately search to find clues that trigger traps, letting them escape. After barely escaping their fiery fate, it’s now painfully obvious that their lives hang in the balance and they must all work together to solve each room. The second room appears to be outside in a freezing climate and they have to solve that room before they freeze to death. The third room is an upside-down pool parlor which the ceiling eventually gives way causing all of them to climb on furniture and other items to survive. Every room has its unique clues and dangers, and there are specific references to each of the players’ secret pasts. Every room was a blast to experience, and the intense amount of concentration and focus required by the game and the participants was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. I barely had a chance to catch my breath!
The other players in the game include Tyler Labine as a long-distance trucker and former miner, Deborah Ann Woll as the war veteran, and Nik Dodani as a game enthusiast and escape room expert. All six of the characters are likable in one way or the other, but I honestly believe that if we gathered more of a backstory on them we would have liked them even more. Still, they were okay enough that I rooted for all of them to survive. Also, the PG-13 rating from the MPAA should be enough to inform you that the blood and gore effects and the adult situations are kept to an absolute minimum. I wasn’t sure how this film would turn out based on the trailers I saw, but I was really pleased with the final product and would recommend it to others. Yeah, it’s not the best movie ever, but it was sure entertaining and suspenseful!
Title: Escape Room
Release Date: January 4, 2019
Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Action
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Director(s): Adam Robitel
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 3.6 /5
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