Damn it Escape Room! You had something good going, why’d you have to ruin it?
Six Strangers are invited to Minos Escape Rooms, home to the world’s most subversive escape rooms, by a small black box with a slip saying the winner of the escape room receives a $10,000-dollar prize. However, when the game begins, the group realizes they have been trapped inside more than just a game and are forced to go through rooms which take subversive to a whole other level.
It’s officially 2019 and what better way to start off the year of film than with a pg-13 January horror pic (if you could even call it horror). For starters, do not expect much from the acting. Logan Miller (Love, Simon) turns in the best work of the cast as the guy not even good enough to be a cashier at a groceries store. Miller not just creates the most believable character but does a good job at developing as the story progresses, appearing awkward and weak to start and becoming a survivalist you sympathize for later. Deborah Ann Woll does a solid job as an Iraq veteran who suffers from PTSD. Jay Ellis is fine. I always enjoy a Tyler Labine appearance. Taylor Russell, who plays the main girl in the posters for the film, suffers the most from overacting. At first, she is hardly noticeable, a shy physics (or was it engineering?) student who wanders off from the group to find all the clues because she is the smart one. But once the number of survivors begins to dwindle, the film forces her to step in as the lead and start making more noise. Russell begins to come off as panicky, forcing screams when there should be stunned silence and becomes annoying.
Despite its pg-13 limitations, such as no gore, Escape Room is still crafty enough to generate suspense and excitement as you sense the clock is running out in the various death traps. For the core of the film, it is entertaining to watch the characters struggle to solve the puzzles and the film is able to hook the audience well enough so that they are curious to see what is in store in the next room. But, the film’s ending is dog crap. It goes on way too long, runs into multiple dead ends it can’t explain itself out of, tries too hard to cram in stuff setting up for a sequel and lacks almost any enjoyment. A much simpler ending could have still caught the audience off guard and left a better aftertaste. Another criticism I have, was how the film chose to explain the reason the strangers were selected. The one thing they all have in common is revealed as they all spout out their histories one by one and this sequence only negatively cuts into the film’s pacing. The subtle way objects in the rooms which symbolized the characters’ pasts took the more cinematic approach of show not tell and should’ve been continued.
All in all, Escape Room is surprisingly fun yet ultimately forgettable escapist entertainment I would only recommend to those desperate for a thrill.