The movie Escape Room is about six adventurous strangers who receive a strange box and a note inviting them to participate in a competition. In order to win the prize of $10,000, they must solve a series of puzzles to escape the rooms. The players are shy student Zoey (Taylor Russell), convenience-store worker Ben (Logan Miller), army vet Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), overweight schlub Mike (Tyler Labine), nerdy gamer Danny (Nik Dodani), and arrogant financial trader Jason (Jay Ellis). Each person shares a different trait that some may find enviable, while another trait is part of the reason they end up in a series of escape rooms. What starts out as innocent fun soon turns into a living nightmare as the four men and two women discover each room is an elaborate trap, part of a sadistic game of life or death.
The director maintains audience interest primarily through the pleasantly surprising quality of the rooms. The series of puzzle environments, ranging from a simulated snowy woodland, to an upside down bar, to an abstract psychedelic living room, are clever. The attention to detail in all of the traps is prominent where other thriller productions such as “Cube” (1997) might have cut corners.
Sarcasm functions as the language of the film and contributes to comical moments early on. The comedy helps the audience accept Ben and Jason’s characters as they are not as likeable as the others. Their personalities clash because of their differences: one works at a convenient store and the other is an opinionated businessman. Yet, with every joke Jason directs toward Danny, and Ben throwing in a jab or two, they grow on the viewers.
The escape room horror idea has been thoroughly explored in movies like “Cube” (1997) and the Saw franchise. Escape Room doesn’t add much to the subgenre, but it is an exceptionally tense and well-crafted entry. Each room is clear in its concept and the stakes to escape. The film begs the question, what will happen next?
Escape Room contains its share of cliff-hanging, race-around-the-clock action that test the players’ wits, guts, integrity and loyalty. The film is just the right amount of humor and suspense.
Rating: PG-13 (for terror/perilous action, violence, some suggestive material & language)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Adam Robitel
Written By: Bragi F. Schut, Maria Melnik
In Theaters: Jan 4, 2019
Runtime: 100 minutes