Escape Room might fill the Saw-shaped hole in your heart


Escape Room is an entertaining mind screw with complex, creative games and mythology that is itching to get explored in future films.

I walked into Escape Room completely blind. As in I hadn’t seen a trailer, and all I knew about it was the basic premise. I watched it more out of a sense of obligation as a thriller and horror fan than because I really wanted to. It’s January, which is typically the month where studios dump movies they have little faith in and therefore I had little faith in this one.

To say I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed Escape Room would be a massive understatement. While the plot is nothing we haven’t seen before and the characters leave something to be desired, the creativity, acting, direction, editing, and even the overall premise behind each “escape room” is something to be admired and praised.

Beware of unmarked spoilers from this point on.

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To put it simply, I had such a good time watching Escape Room I didn’t care about any of its faults. All I knew was that by the time it was over I was totally sold on it becoming a franchise for a couple of reasons.

It’s a spiritual successor to the Saw franchise.

Before anyone breaks out their pitchforks, I’m not claiming Escape Room is better than the Saw series. I haven’t actually seen all the Saw films to compare them, but based on what I have seen and the general premise of a mastermind creating increasingly difficult deadly games  of survival for a group of unwilling participants… they’re at the very least, distant cousins.

Escape Room is, more or less, a PG-13 version of Saw. It retains the same pulse-pounding tension and ingenuity when it comes to designing rooms, without the gore. The concept of Escape Room lends itself to plenty of future incarnations. So long as the production design remains top-notch and the writers can continue to out-due themselves with new and intriguing rooms (a waiting room that turns into a convection oven was a brilliant idea), this could become a lucrative property for Sony.

Personally, I enjoyed the optical illusion and the Magic 8 Ball rooms the most. The way the cinematography played with the audience and character’s perception of reality created a visual and hallucinogenic effect both in-world and out of it. I think I bit my nails for the entirety of both scenes.

Pictured Taylor Russell as Zoey Davis (Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures/David Bloomer)

The characters are compelling.

As I mentioned above, Escape Room has opportunity for growth and development within the confines of the world its created for itself. Another franchise it reminds me of is Final Destination and since it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a new one of those for a while, this could fill that void quite nicely.

It serves a similar type of cheesy popcorn entertainment with sharper wit and better acting but maintains the fatalist streak and outright manic cruelty of Death in Final Destination.

Unlike those films, I genuinely cared about the characters in Escape Room. None of them were anything we haven’t seen before, on paper, but the casting was strong and each actor was able to bring them to life in a real and believable way. I grew attached to Zoey (Taylor Russell from Lost in Space) and Ben (Logan Miller from Love Simon)  and I want to see their journey continue as they attempt to take down the evil organization orchestrating Minos Escape Rooms.

Obviously, they will have to bring in new characters to continue the games given everyone else from the film is dead (and I was genuinely sorry to see each one go because the actors were so strong) but they can maintain continuity from the original.

The ending left many questions unanswered.

Speaking of continuity, Escape Room opened a can of worms in the final twenty minutes of the film. Not only do we discover that there is no real “winner” after all since the game master  attempts to murder Ben, but we also learn Minos Escape Rooms have been occurring in secret for some time. The games are paid for by anonymous rich donors and there are different themes every year. It’s a little like The Hunger Games or Battle Royale except everyone has to work together against a greater enemy instead of each other.

Even though Zoey is able to outsmart the game, she and Ben only succeed in chopping off one head of the hydra. By the time the cops come, everything has been destroyed and wiped clean. Not to mention the fact she and Ben only met the game’s master but not the actual puzzlemaker.

6 months later, Zoey is as driven as ever to uncover the entire conspiracy and put an end to it for good. She has a vendetta but so do the people she outwitted. We’e privy to a simulation chamber where the brains behind the operation are testing out their latest escape room on a plane, just like the one Zoey and Ben are set to board to hunt down the lead she found in Manhattan. Cliffhanger alert!

I loved getting a visual of the sim and the warehouse where this clandestine group operates as they construct rooms and calculate survival odds, it proves there is much more than meets the eye in this film and so much more to explore.

Who was the mysterious man using a voice modulator and disguise over the broadcast at the end?

Could it be Zoey’s teacher from the beginning of the film (Cornelius Geaney Jr.)? Is it escape room enthusiast Danny (Nik Dodani from Netflix’s Atypical)? It was proposed at one point in the film the game master could have been hidden amongst the recruits all along. What if he faked his death? Or what if it’s Detective Li (Kenneth Fok from Hulu’s The Looming Tower)? The leader of an evil corporation being a part of the police force is a very frightening idea indeed.

Most likely, it’s a brand new character but that’s the excitement of a baby franchise, you never know what path it’s going to take and I want Escape Room to get the opportunity to explore it.

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If you’re looking for more Escape Room fun, take a peek around the official Sony website. Not only does it give you a chance to find real escape rooms near you, there is an official challenge to enter a million dollar sweepstakes. All you have to do is solve a virtual escape room for your chance to enter.

If you paid close attention to the movie, it shouldn’t be too hard but fans who haven’t gotten the chance to watch yet can participate too! The marketing team has stuffed the site with goodies and film clips for anyone hankering for more.

Escape Room is now playing in theaters, check your local listings for a time closest to you.

Did you see Escape Room? Which room was your favorite? Would you like to see a sequel to the film? Help us crack the next clue in the comments below!