A group of strangers, all suffering from past traumas, are invited to the mysterious Minos (get it?) Escape Room for a chance to win $10,000. Soon they find not all is as it seems and failing to escape will mean certain death.
‘Escape Room’ is a mind-numbingly stupid film. Not good enough to be interesting, too competent to be truly terrible; it commits the ultimate cinema sin of just being boring. The same day I saw this, I witnessed someone make a Pot Noodle sandwich which filled me with far more horror and dread than this wet sock of a film could muster.
Its first problem is its premise. The entire point of an escape game is to pretend that you are in a death-defying situation and winning against all the odds. So, flipping the premise so it actually is dangerous does little to raise the stakes for an audience. It’s as futile as making a film about roller-coasters becoming sentient and going on killing sprees. It's inherently stupid whilst also taking itself far too seriously. In tone and rhythm, they are almost exact replicas of the terrible remakes of William Castle films in the late '90s.
The beats are so obvious that it's kind of shocking that they follow them in such a simple progression. It’s so by the numbers that I almost had an out-of-body experience from such profound déjà vu. It is like watching a TV Tropes web page come to life.
In fact, the movie has a total disregard for its audience and goes as far as to call its target audience a bunch of virgins. Which I guess must be true because the only people that could possibly fall for this are those too young to have seen all the 'Saw' films.
About a quarter of the way in its clear that they are never going to reach a satisfying ending because the premise doesn't stand up to any scrutiny. It is obvious they didn’t know how to end it because they pass three obvious natural horror endings and instead opts for a sort of ‘Hunger Games’ we are coming for you, hey kids wait for the sequel ending.
It doesn’t even capture what's fun about doing an escape game. As a viewer, you don’t get to see the puzzles and hope to work them out. The film just throws puzzles and solutions at the protagonists who often need to loudly explain everything that happens. It as if the director doesn’t understand that we can see the screen. Often there will be a big massive close up of text or a number and someone will explain what we are seeing. Yes, I do know how to read thank you very much.
The acting isn’t terrible but ‘Daredevils’ Deborah Ann Woll looks embarrassed to be there. It’s also got fairly good production values for what it is and thus feels like a waste of a few good sets.
‘Escape Room’ is like watching someone else play The Riddler sections in ‘Batman: Arkham City’ and without a man running around dressed as a bat it’s just too hard to suspend one's disbelief. Now you can make your own joke up about escaping and watching this film because I, unlike the makers of this flop, have some respect for my audience.