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Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Director: Adam Robitel

Actors: Logan Miller, Taylor Russell

Release Date: Friday 16th July 2021

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Running time: 88 minutes

After escaping with their lives, Ben and Zoey (Logan Miller and Taylor Russell) are drawn to an abandoned building in New York which they believe may hold the answers to their ordeal. However, they soon find themselves trapped with four other people (Indya Moore, Holland Roden, Thomas Cocquerel, Carlito Overo) who went through the same experience involving a deadly escape room...

Sequels, as well we know, are often made for simple reasons and few of them are artistic in nature. It's because the last one made enough money to justify the existence of the previous one. 2019's 'Escape Room' was a cheap and chintzy horror-thriller with some ingenious moments, so it follows that 'Tournament of Champions' is going to be more of the same. That the cast of characters is made up of people who went through a similar ordeal and survived means that the writers have taken away one pillar from the last one - everyone gets the concept now, therefore they're going to be more capable. That then makes it about each of the characters solving the puzzles, rather than necessarily seeing how they'll be diced and sliced by the puzzles.

Although it does have some scares and thrills to it, 'Tournament of Champions' is just caught in its own trap. You know they're going to get out of it, but that each room will take a character and leave only one behind and since two of the characters returned from the first one, it's going to be them. Not only that, if you only spend a fractional amount of time developing the other characters, how are you supposed to care about them dying and where are the stakes for them surviving? Much of the energy of the writers no doubt went into divising the different escape rooms, because none of it went on dialogue. All of that is reduced to shouting out things that are happening on screen, or a random assortment of exclamations. Likewise, the acting is reduced instead to them just crawling and scratching around a set as various special effects go off around them.

At 88 minutes, 'Tournament of Champions' doesn't mess around. It gets down to business pretty quickly and it speeds through the different puzzles, pausing only for the thinnest of character and plot development before it's on to another one. If you're looking for cheap thrills that are under an hour and a half, this might just be for you. The tension in some of the puzzles is quite engaging, even if the dialogue is painfully clunky through some of it. Failing that, you could just as easily watch re-runs of 'The Crystal Maze' on YouTube and pretend Richard O'Brien kills them if they don't make it out of the Aztec Zone. It's basically the same idea, just with better music.