escape room | adam robitel | bragi f. schut | maria melnik | taylor russell | logan miller | jay ellis | action | adventure | mystery | thriller | united states | south africa | tyler labine | deborah ann woll | nik dodani | yorick van wageningen | cornelius geaney jr.
Film: Escape Room
Director: Adam Robitel
Writer: Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller and Jay Ellis
This was a film that I missed when it was in the theater. I really liked the concept so I made sure to check it out now that it is on DVD. It also helps that it gives me another 2019 horror film to watch as well. The synopsis is six strangers find themselves in a maze of deadly mystery rooms and must use their wits to survive.
We kick this off with Ben Miller (Logan Miller). He is trying to solve a puzzle in an escape room while the walls are closing in. He is looking for clues while things are getting tighter around him. We see him think he has figured it out, but it doesn’t seem to work as he thinks.
It then shifts to before the events we just saw. We are introduced to Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell). She is a shy, but genius student. It should be pointed out that she is learning about quantum physics and knows the answer to a question her professor asks. She doesn’t raise her hand though. He does say something to her after class and wants her to do something during break to get her out of her comfort zone.
The film then introduces us to Jason Walker (Jay Ellis). He is somewhat of an arrogant, but successful business man. We see him interact with a protégé as well. The film then shows us Ben again. This time we see that he’s working in a grocery store and is trying to fix his life. He is shot down though when he asks for a promotion.
The three of these people get an odd box from different people. It takes them some time to open it, but it is an invitation to an escape room. If they are the last person standing, they get 10,000 dollars as well. The three show up where they meet three other participants. There’s Mike Nolan (Tyler Labine), Amanda Harper (Debroah Ann Woll) and Danny Khan (Nik Dodani). They don’t realize the game has started until Ben goes to leave and the door handle comes off. They search for clues and we get some that are hinting at what this room has in store for them.
They have to survive, but we soon learn they all have something in common. Even more, they are all harboring secrets they will have to face in order to survive this game.
To kick off this review, I have to say that I really like the idea of this. Escape rooms are something that is really popular right now, but I like taking this concept and making it something much deadlier. The problem though with this concept is that it really feels a lot like a Saw film. It’s not a complete rip-off, but there are a lot of similarities there.
I’d really like to delve into what these characters have in common, but I don’t like to spoil films in these reviews. I will say that it is intriuing. It is a bit convoluted though, as there are details that no matter how in depth the research would go, there would still be details that wouldn’t be able to be known.
This would have also been better to me if it wasn’t PG-13. I understand that this film didn’t necessarily need to go bloodier and by going with this rating, they were allowed to get more people in the cinema. At the time of writing this, I do believe they are making a sequel so it’s really hard to fault them. This film could actually work with a sequel as well as it introduced an interesting concept that could be fleshed out more.
To move on to the pacing of the film, I thought it was fine. The film gets a tad bit repetitive and therefore, I wasn’t as drawn into it as I wanted. There were these flashes we got to give quick back-story to each of the characters. This wasn’t the worst concept and at the time of the first one, I groaned. Reflecting on it now, it is fine. The film just didn’t build as much tension as I wanted and I guess I never felt like the characters were in much of a threat, even though quite a few do die. The ending I’ve touched on as well, which was fine, but I can see where a sequel could go.
It is interesting that I didn’t feel for the characters as much as I wanted, because I thought the acting was pretty solid. Russell was an interesting character in that she seemed so shy and introverted. I really like that she is a genius and there are things that tie back in from the beginning of the film. She has a good character arch as well. Miller was also solid in his role. I equally felt bad for him, as he is overmatched compared to other characters in this game. He is dealing with some dark things. Ellis was solid in his role. He came off as such a jerk and it becomes even worse. With that said though, I still liked him which I have to give him credit to the performance for that. Labine is solid and he always makes me laugh. Woll and Dodani were both fine as well. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed.
To the effects of the film, there weren’t a whole lot from what I could really tell. There are aspects that did go heavy with them and they were CGI. I’m not normally the biggest fan of this, but they weren’t horrible here. I do think that the PG-13 rating really takes some of the tension that could be built for the characters. I will say the escape room concept is great, but it is a bit outrageous to be able to actually pull off in real life. The film though is shot well in my opinion.
Now with that said, this solid film overall. I think that the concept is really good, especially with the popularity of escape rooms. I do think the film is written well there are some good callbacks as well as little things in the story. The problem for me is the PG-13 rating as the tension never built as much as I wanted it to. I do think the acting is solid and the effects were fine, even though they go a bit CGI heavy. The soundtrack of the film didn’t stand out or hurt the film. The ending does set it up for a sequel, which we are probably getting. Overall I found this film to just be average, but not really living up to its full potential.
My Rating: 7 out of 10