One of the more recent entertainment trends has seen people seeking a higher thrill or adventure in order to stoke the fires of curiosity and challenge their intellects through ‘escape rooms’ designed to fulfil these needs.
Often used as a means of office or work related events to boost morale and establish solid foundation for teamwork.
For any British readers out there, it’s hard to shake the image of these adventure seekers within The Crystal Maze shouting out, “I’ve got the crystal! I’ve got the crystal!”
But I digress.
It seems inevitable then that the movie industry would latch onto this craze and string a dark narrative behind them to lure in the cinema-going public.
Essentially what is in offer is a film that has similar traits to Saw or more appropriately Cube following a group of six strangers who in this instance sign up for one of these Escape Rooms only to realise that the stakes are high and very real.
And so we see them face challenge after challenge in a fight for survival and where humanity is put in the line and deeply questioned.
Initially enticed to the event by a strange looking cube which had this writer instantly thinking of the puzzle box from Hellraiser. Now that would have been interesting to see a group of people in search of the ultimate thrill by luring out the coenobites in a battle of ecstasy that would tear open their souls in order to reach their satisfaction… if only.
Instead, we’re presented with a series of events that feel all too familiar and despite the threat being all too real, never puts the audience on edge.
There are moments where we are taken on the ride and witness the characters plight, but it’s hard to emote any sense of empathy towards them as the focus is more on the danger presented in each room rather than on any depth in personality and any attempt to do so is incredibly formulaic.
The one standout set piece was in the drug infused room that leaves its occupants intoxicated with a highly venomous poison that disorientates and fucks with the mind. This scene does a lot to heighten the loss of control that the characters face and the panic that ensues.It was a pleasure to see True Blood’s Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) on screen again and the lead protagonist (Taylor Russell) holds her own in a rewarding performance too.
Escape Room could easily serve as a companion to Blumhouse’s The Belko Experiment as it equally pits a group of people in a fight for survival.
Whilst it offers a few thrills along the way, it never lifts the danger component to an extreme level and as such bobs along without much fanfare.
It’s an enjoyable movie but never really challenged my senses enough to connect with the characters plight.
- Saul Muerte