There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
A group of people with a variety of lifestyles receive mysterious invitations to an escape room. It is supposedly the most immersive escape room ever invented and is so challenging that no one has ever completed it successfully. What is the incentive for completing this room? A large cash prize, which will be awarded to anyone who is able to get out in time.
While waiting to be taken into the escape room, the group discovers that the lobby they have been waiting in is actually the first segment of the escape room. They quickly start looking for clues, but the room turns into an oven and begins heating up. At this point, the group discovers that the escape room has been designed to put their lives at risk. The only way out is through, but each segment is more dangerous than the last. There is no way of knowing who arranged this whole thing, or why they were chosen to participate, but being unable to solve the puzzles may cost them their lives.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Rooms (+8pts)
The Beginning (-4pts)
Taylor Russell (+4pts)
Unique Players (+4pts)
The End (-4pts)
Pro: The Rooms (+8pts)
I was nervous before seeing this movie that each room would feel too far-fetched. I was also concerned that the group would be racing a timer in every room, but that was fortunately not the case. I have done my share of escape rooms, and one thing I enjoyed was that the puzzles in the movie were very similar to the kinds of puzzles one would do in an actual escape room. The only difference with the movie was that the stakes were obviously much more severe than just failing to get out within the given time period and having some employee come in and explain all the puzzles that I failed to solve. I thought the rooms were done really well, and I liked how each room had a different way of putting the group in jeopardy.
One room heated up to the point where it could have cooked the group like a Thanksgiving turkey. Another room was so cold that it could have turned the group into popsicles. These two rooms were shown in the trailer, and I will not give away how the other rooms put the group in danger, but know that each room was unique enough to keep the movie feeling fresh and intense. Each room lasted just long enough so that the audience could enjoy it, but not so long that any room felt old. With every new room, came a new and very different threat. Additionally, the group only ever had to race a clock once, and were instead, frequently racing the room’s ability to kill them. This, mixed with a variety of puzzles and scenery, made it so that the movie was always intense, and never stale.
Con: The Beginning (-4pts)
I never understand the logic behind doing this, but the filmmakers of this movie did something that is done in too many movies. They started the movie by showing a scene from the end of the story, and then jumping back in time to the beginning. I do not get the logic behind doing this at all. The filmmakers clearly thought the movie started slow, so they threw this intense scene at the beginning to try and hook the audience.
There was an unfortunate side effect of doing this. The scene being shown at the beginning gave a huge spoiler as to which characters would be present by the end of the story. Will the audience know exactly what happened to each of the other characters? No, but most audience members will be able to take a wild guess as to their fates, which made it hard for me to care about some of those characters, while also not being worried about the survival of the ones who I saw in that first scene.
Pro: Taylor Russell (+4pts)
Taylor Russel played Zoey, one of the main characters in the movie, and I thought the young actress did a really good job. The character was smart, kind, and severely introverted. Zoey was a genius, but she had a tough time getting out of her comfort zone, which was something that was easy to relate to. I had never seen this young actress before, but she did a good job of playing to all of the characters’ strengths, as well as her weaknesses. This was not a performance that will blow anyone’s mind, but she did exactly what she needed to and Escape Room was certainly a stronger movie for it.
Con: PTSD (-3pts)
The filmmakers decided to make it so that every single one of these characters had experienced some sort of extremely traumatic event. Each character was still dealing with their trauma, so suffered from some level of Post Traumatic Stess Disorder. We saw every character—except one—explaining their trauma or we saw a flashback showing it. With some characters, we even got multiple flashbacks. If the filmmakers had done this with just one or two of the characters, that would have been fine, but doing it for all of them disrupted the flow of the movie, because of how many of them there were.
It just felt like overkill, and it distracted from the premise that was working so well. The filmmakers tried to make the movie more dramatic than it needed to be, and the trauma that every character had felt like a distraction from what the movie should have been. I just wanted to see some over-the-top escape rooms with a Saw sort of spin to it. I did not want to see a character freaking out because the heat reminded her of a previous life event. It was just unnecessary, and it was not what anyone will watch this movie hoping to see.
Pro: Unique Players (+4pts)
While I was not a fan of all of the flashbacks and explanations for each of the characters’ traumas, I did like that each character had a different lifestyle from the rest. One was obsessed with escape rooms, one was a very smart science student, one was in the military, one was a trucker, one was a businessman, and one was a young guy who worked in a auto-repair shop. Each character was unique from the rest, which had two major benefits. First, the group had a variety that made it interesting to see them interacting with one another. Second, their diversity provided at least one character for most audience members to be able to relate to. The character development was not perfect, but I enjoyed the group dynamic. Each character brought something different to the table—some more so than others—and I enjoyed seeing that table being set.
Con: The End (-4pts)
This movie was a prime example of a movie in which the filmmakers had a strong premise, but they did not know where to take the end of the story. I do not want to spoil anything, but the ending of the movie turned into this whole other thing that I felt like had been done before. It came across as a cheap ending and it came across as unoriginal. I do not want to say what other movies I felt like this was similar to because I do not want to give anything away, but I thought it felt unoriginal and disappointing.
The ending went in a completely random direction, which made it feel like the writers did not know what this movie was and that they were more concerned with setting up a potential movie franchise. The way they did this was to write in this whole big twist that made the situation feel bigger than we previously thought. The unfortunate reality of this was that it made the actual escape room gimmick feel somewhat irrelevant, and it made it feel like the filmmakers were trying to hard to inject a thriller story into the end, in an attempt to setup future movies. Why not just make a movie about deadly escape rooms, then just later make another movie about more deadly escape rooms?
Grade: B- (80pts)
I had high hopes for this movie. I thought it could end up being pretty similar to movies from the Saw franchise, but with the twist of being set in an escape room format. For the most part, that was exactly what this movie was, and the movie was at its best when it stayed focused on that. The filmmakers did what has become a pet peeve of mine when watching movie, as they started the movie at the end of the story, then jumped back in time, which ended up doing nothing but spoil what characters make it to the end. Additionally, the filmmakers delivered ridiculous answers to who was behind the sinister rooms and why they were doing what they were doing. The filmmakers gave a ridiculous ending that was unoriginal and showed the filmmakers lost sight of what this movie should have been.
I liked the diverse group of characters and I liked watching them interacting with one another. I also liked the young actress (Taylor Russell) who played the main character, Zoey, as she was a relatable genius who was really easy to root for. Finally, I liked the escape room itself. The room was split into different segments with each being just as unique and exciting as the last. The movie had a lot of problems, but the different segments of the escape room always kept the movie feeling fresh, and not knowing how each room would prove to be deadly kept the movie feeling pretty intense.