REVIEW: ESCAPE ROOM

Starring

Taylor Russell (Lost In Space)
Logan Miller (Love, Simon)
Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil)
Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Jay Ellis (Movie 43)
Nik Dodani (Other People)
Yorick van Wageningen (47 Ronin)

Jay Ellis, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Taylor Russell, and Nik Dodani in Escape Room (2019)In Chicago, physics student Zoey, stockboy Ben, daytrader Jason, war veteran Amanda, trucker Mike, and escape room enthusiast Danny receive invitations to the Minos Escape Room Facility for a chance to win $10,000. Gathering in the facility’s waiting room, the players discover they are locked inside and the game has already begun. Searching for clues, Zoey inadvertently activates heating traps, but manages to unlock a vent. As the players make their way through, Amanda has a flashback of crawling through the aftermath of an IED attack in Iraq. Everyone escapes as the room is engulfed in flames.The players find themselves in a winter cabin, with the door locked by a seven-letter combination. Clues in the room include a poster on the wall that says “You’ll go down in history”, and nine deer heads, each with a different letter under them. The room’s clues trigger Ben to have a flashback of driving drunk with friends, singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” before crashing the car. He realizes the nine deer heads refer to Santa’s nine reindeer, and “You’ll go down in history” is the last line of the song he and his friends were singing. He suggests “Rudolph,” which unlocks the door, and the group escapes into a room resembling a frozen lake. They find the locked exit and a single red coat, and use a fishing pole and magnet to retrieve a key encased in an ice block. Danny falls through the ice and drowns, and the remaining players are forced to melt the block with body heat to free the key. Jason has a flashback of freezing beside someone in a red coat; the players unlock the exit as the ice explodes.Deborah Ann Woll in Escape Room (2019)The five players enter an upside-down billiards bar, where the song “Downtown” plays on repeat. In a version of musical chairs, whenever the song stops, a section of floor falls away to reveal an elevator shaft. They find a locked safe, and identify a missing 8 ball as the key to the room. Zoey has a flashback of the aftermath of a plane crash, and realizes the puzzle’s clues are upside down. Retrieving the eight ball from the safe, Amanda accidentally drops it and sacrifices herself, throwing the ball to Jason before plummeting to her death.Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Taylor Russell, and Nik Dodani in Escape Room (2019)The four remaining players enter a hospital ward with six beds, revealing all players were sole survivors: Zoey survived a plane crash; Jason, a boating accident with his roommate; Ben, the car crash; Mike, a mining cave-in; Danny, carbon monoxide poisoning; and Amanda, the IED blast. Realizing the entire game has been based on these events, they deduce that the EKG machine will unlock the next room. Trying to open the door, Jason inadvertently kills Mike with a defibrillator. As the room fills with gas, Jason hooks himself up to the EKG and lets the gas lower his heartrate, opening a passageway. Jason and Ben escape, but Zoey refuses to continue and collapses from the gas.Escape Room (2019)Entering a room covered in optical illusions and strobe lights, Ben confronts Jason over his disregard for the others, and deduces that Jason survived his accident by killing his roommate for the coat. They open a hatch in the floor but are drugged with a hallucinogen. Fighting its effects, Ben finds the antidote and, in a struggle for the single dose, breaks his leg but kills Jason. Ben injects himself and falls through the hatch into an elaborate study room, solving the puzzle and narrowly avoiding being crushed by the walls. In the hospital room, armed Minos employees enter in hazmat gear. Zoey, having survived, incapacitates them, seizes a gun, and escapes into a maintenance area.Logan Miller and Deborah Ann Woll in Escape Room (2019)Ben is met by the Game Master, who has controlled the game as designed by the Puzzle Maker. He explains the true nature of the contest: players with a shared experience – college athletes, savants, lone survivors, celebrities, etc. – are lured into the game, and wealthy viewers bet on the survivors. The Game Master tries to kill Ben, but Zoey arrives, and she and Ben manage to kill the Game Master. As Ben recovers, Zoey tries to explain events to the police, but all evidence at the facility has disappeared. Six months later, Zoey shows Ben that the other players’ deaths have been staged as everyday accidents, and he agrees to join her on a flight to New York City to stop the Minos company. However, Minos and the mysterious Puzzle Maker are already preparing to make their flight a new deadly game.Deborah Ann Woll in Escape Room (2019)Drawing influences from Saw (2004), Final Destination (2000), and Cube (1997). While the premise doesn’t exactly scream originality, Escape Room is a perfectly enjoyable little thriller. For those expecting buckets of gore and sickening death scenes, look elsewhere, as Schut and Melnik’s screenplay is much more attuned to focusing on the elaborate puzzles themselves, resulting in a film that intrigues rather than disturbs. Pace wise, the film doesn’t slow down and is engaging throughout, some of the puzzle rooms are quite visually arresting, and thankfully the characters aren’t just one dimensional zeroes either. While the ending does border on nonsensical, Escape Room is a still a fun film that is definitely worth checking out.