Escape Room isn’t a horror-film, let’s be very clear about that. It’s a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The film opens by introducing half of the strangers we’re about to get locked up with. Zoey (Taylor Russell) is a timid, intelligent college student who’s been through some kind of trauma in her past. Jason (Jay Ellis – Insecure) is a confident yet cocky stock broker with a fight-or-die attitude. Ben (Logan Miller – Love, Simon) doesn’t really know what he wants to be when he grows up, so losing himself in alcohol and chainsmoking is kind of his thing, in the meantime he works in the backroom of a hardware store. All of these people receive a gift from what seems to be people they work or study with. Once they crack open the invitation box itself, it points them into the direction of the location where the rest of the story will take place.
Once arrived, we meet our other three contestants. Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll – Daredevil) is an Iraq veteran, Mike (Tyler Labine) the truck driver and Danny (Nik Dodani – Atypical) our escape room enthusiast. Before truly realising it, the game has already begun, and it becomes very clear that this is gonna be a fight-for-survival kinda game. Real flames, real hypothermia, real heights to fall from and so on.. But the game has some secrets of its own, especially Zoey seems to notice little references to events in their lives.
There isn’t any blood-splashing or limb-cutting present, but there are enough other ways to keep the tension building all the way to the end. This partially has to do with the exquisite art direction. Every escape room has its own soul and environment that looks expensive: a room that turns into a human-sized oven, a cabin in a snowy landscape where every step might cause you to freeze to death, an upside down bar. Every escape room breathes atmosphere and the creators have spend attention to detail.
The script gets a little bit funny at times because you know it all takes place in a building – or does it?! – but a little round of applause to writers Maria Melnik and Bragi Schut is definitely deserved. It never feels like these are just some set pieces and they all have to die at some point, because you actually don’t know what might or might not happen to them. Some might be displeased with the final reveal, but for me it felt like the studio knew what they were going for and yes, building up for a sequel that might or might not get made in the future. I wouldn’t mind that all. Let’s say, BRING IT!
Escape Room could’ve easily been some sort of twist to revive the Saw-franchise, but I’m happy it isn’t. Tight, fun little thriller with some spectacular vertigo inducing set pieces.
Review by Seth Eelen