Director: Adam Robitel
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Jay Ellis and Tyler Labine
After seeing a trailer for Escape Room 2, I decided to seek out the first one from 2019. I’d never even heard of it before. When searching for it, I found there isn’t just one film called Escape Room, there’s three. One that was released in 2017, one in 2018 and then the one I was looking for in 2019. Somehow there are 3 completely unrelated films from consecutive years. To make matters even more confusing, the Cineworld app said that the new one is a sequel to the 2017 version. The only reason I didn’t end up watching that one is because the Cineworld listing said some of the stars from the first one are reappearing in the sequel and listed them, they didn’t show on the Amazon listing for the 2017 but did for the 2019 version. It’s confusing as hell and someone during production should have changed the title or given it a subtitle, or something to differentiate it from the others. I don’t like starting a review like this, but it is stupid that 3 films share the same title and were released so close together.
So we are all on the same page, this is a review for the 2019 film directed by Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Lost Key) and the one that has a sequel out, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, on Friday.
Now that’s out of the way, Escape Room is pretty great film. It’s dark, tense and has stunning visuals. Adam Robitel directs an excellent and suspenseful horror film. The sequences build perfectly with terror, keeping you on the edge of your seat. It’s surprising that a film that’s inspired by escape rooms is this good. It’s genuinely exciting and thrilling for the entire run time. There isn’t a dull moment, the whole film flies by.
The story is centred around a group of people who are all gifted a puzzle box, that once completed invites them to an escape room where one person will win $10,000. Each of them have a traumatic past and are struggling to deal with what’s happened. It’s not long before they realise that the escape room is designed specifically to play on their past traumas and that the stakes for this game are literally life and death.
The cast are all great. Everyone feels like distinct characters that you quickly start to care for and want them to succeed. Even though they all have flaws, they are still likable enough to make the tense time limits of each puzzle that much scarier. You’ll be on the edge of your seat willing them to survive each puzzle room.
Escape Room feels like a well-polished film. Every set looks great and the effects are fantastic. Somehow Robitel has managed to capture the excitement of an escape room and combine it with the terror of Saw. It’s not extreme in the horror or gore, for the most part you don’t see any deaths on screen. It’s a very compelling and entertaining thrill ride of a film, however, the plot points do feel obvious, it does feel like parts of this have been done before and it’s a shame that the ending swaps out any real pay-off to set up a sequel. Regardless this is a really good 90ish minute watch and the second one has a lot to live up to.