Adam Robitel’s Escape Room basically does what one would expect. There is a group of challengers, unknown to each other, invited to solve a series of escape room puzzles for some cash prize. Of course, being a horror movie, one might expect something either to go wrong or there are more Saw-like (or Cube-like, or Resident Evil-like) aspects to the game. Though such puzzle movies already existed before this one, Escape Room is still original enough of a movie to be enjoyed, recommended, and rewatched, and it’s simply well-done (and it even spawned a sequel, as others want a third installment).
Along the way, you’ll surely find yourself wondering if you’d have what it takes to survive these challenges. After solving the final puzzle, how victorious would you feel? Or would you still feel too degraded, traumatized, and cheated by sadistic overlords to celebrate? Also, to keep potential victims on their toes, they don’t quite know where they are by a certain point, there does not appear to be any way to call the police, and the room is the killer, so you don’t even have a face or a name to scream curses at. These are classic themes of not only mystery but entrapment and disempowerment, paired with the irony that the victims have signed up for it!
An Escape Room full of strangers
As the plot unfolds, the characters all must partner up to survive. That may sound like something Captain Obvious might say, but keep in mind how hard it can be to get everyone on the same page, especially in high-stress situations with people you don’t even know. Plus, hey, could someone in the room be in on it? If so, consider how if that person is unmasked as a killer, they would also be valuable in providing one or more “players” with the escape room key.
Time is an issue, and, for all anyone knows, a key might be hidden anyway. In fact, what if there is no key or no way out? What if the designers decided to simply give up on providing a convenient means of escape? A movie like this will always have some potential value, because it’s really just a wedding of worthwhile ideas, even if a few require some suspension of disbelief. Even if you’re not a superfan of the overall results, is there really anything all that much to hate about a movie like Escape Room? Fans must have agreed, because there was a sequel released in 2021, titled Escape Room: Tournament of Champions.
The characters to cheer for the most?
The most obvious main character of Escape Room is Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell), an intelligent college student who ultimately aims to “cheat” the system and throw the game designers off their game. Another possible choice for a favorite character is Danny Khan (Nik Dodani), even if only because he begins as an escape room enthusiast. Will he still be having fun as they turn up the heat (in one room quite literally)? On that note, we are reminded that one might enjoy the game at first, but it does not mean they’ll have what it takes to complete this kind of puzzle.
Zoey brings her A-game, but how plausible is it, really?
Alright, so I have delivered some praise for Escape Room, but what would a review be without examining perceived flaws? The most obvious one: How would such a game be developed and kept so secret, especially when it seems to have been developed to please a madman (or maybe a madwoman)? We’re talking some really secret stuff here, more controversial and explosive than plenty of other scandalous and deadly pursuits. Then again, it should be remembered that black markets do exist; just because the ingredients are illegal, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t make yourself a black market sadist sandwich.
In fact, even though it’s tough to believe this story could actually happen, there are indeed some nightmares occurring right now in the world, just barely concealed from public view, or even normalized to the extent that people might just shrug them off anyway. Plus, sometimes people make such critiques for a seemingly baseless search for something to complain about.
Actually, I would say some elements of this movie are probably more plausible than one might first suspect, knowing how evil things can so easily be hidden even in plain sight. In any case, there are plenty of reasons to consider adding Escape Room to any Halloween-month movie-watching experience.
Escape Room also stars Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, and Yorick van Wageningen.
What are your thoughts on Escape Room? Would you survive such a challenge? Let us know in the comments!