Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Adam Robitel
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Marc Spicer
WRITERS: Bragi F. Schut, Maria Melnik
MUSIC: Brian Tyler, John Carey
Over the past few years, the popularity of escape rooms has increased. For those who don’t know the concept, you and some friends take part in a game where you are put in a locked room. You have a limited amount of time to find the clues within the room usually to find some keys that will be necessary to get you out and if you don’t make it when the time runs out, you are basically told where you went wrong.
I did an escape room once and it was pretty fun. However, it’s not too hard to imagine someone or something devising a room with real threats meaning that when the clock runs out, you’ll be dead and no one will come in to tell you where you screwed up. This is the simple premise of “Escape Room”.
The movie follows a group of desperate people that includes reclusive bookworm Zoey (Taylor Russell), depressed clerk Ben (Logan Miller), military veteran Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), truck driver Mike (Tyler Labine), wealthy stock broker Jason (Jay Ellis) and gamer nerd Danny (Nik Dodani). There is a reason these random people are thrown together to see who will survive. Unfortunately, the film falls apart quickly during the second half and the promise of the movie’s premise is completely squandered.
I must admit that the movie did have me on the edge of my seat… at first. It was pretty tense watching the characters running around a room and trying to find the clues in time to survive whatever deathtrap was currently set up to take them down. Unfortunately, the characters become pretty predictable and this is where the film began to lose me.
For example, if you see that a person is obviously going to be revealed as the bad guy, don’t think that there will be some clever twist. That guy is bad news. Also, you could tell that the writers didn’t really know where they needed to take the film before reaching the finish line. There was actually a good moment where I thought the film was going to end and if they had ended it there, I might (key word “might”) have slightly recommended this movie.
Unfortunately, they decided to add five more minutes to the film that was completely unnecessary. It just felt completely out of place and not only that, it ended up completely ruining the movie overall.
In many ways, the movie felt very reminiscent of the 1997 Canadian thriller “Cube”, also about a group of people that had to survive several rooms filled with deathtraps. While “Escape Room” wasn’t the worst film to kickstart 2019, it was ultimately a disappointing movie and I bring up “Cube” as a better alternative to a movie that gave up on what could have been a clever little thriller.