Thursday, January 17, 2019

Escape Room (2019)

Six people are mailed identical puzzle boxes by people they trust. When solved, an invitation to the most exclusive escape room pops out with a $10,000 reward for people who can get to the end of the experience. All six arrive at an office building where the waiting room is the first puzzle in the escape room. When they barely escape a fiery fate, it becomes clear that their lives hang in the balance and they have to work together to solve each room.

Escape Room feels familiar: six strangers with their own secrets being forced to solve puzzles with fatal consequences. Many films take this basic formula like Cube or Saw, but this one felt different. While the others establish what's going on pretty quickly as the characters get to know each other and work together, Escape Room keeps the audience guessing until the last 20 or so minutes of the film. It isn't the most unique premise, but it's a decent reason for everything. The lead up is entertaining and kept me frantically thinking about how to solve each room. The first room is a giant oven that heats up more and more as they find clues and trigger traps. The second room appears outside to be in a freezing climate and they have to solve the room before they freeze to death. The third room is upside down and the ceiling gives way as time goes on, causing the players to climb on furniture and props to survive. Each room has unique clues, dangers, and specific references to the players' secrets.

The characters are varied and of course butt heads over the course of their ordeal. Zoey Davis is a gifted but extremely shy college student and the youngest of the players. Ben Miller works in a grocery store stock room and seems to be going through a hard time, choosing to cope with alcohol. Cheerful Mike Nolan is a retired miner while intense Jason Walker works on Wall Street. Amanda Harper is one of my favorite characters and a scarred war veteran. Danny Khan has the most experience with escape rooms and excels at puzzles. All of them have skills and talents that lend themselves to figuring out how to survive and solve the puzzles. On top of this, the most hidden and intimate details of their lives are included in these rooms and at times shake them to their core. These details added a layer of complexity and let the audience get to know the characters much better than is usual in this type of film.

As a January horror release, I didn't expect much from Escape Room. It takes familiar tropes from films like Saw and Cube and keeps what's actually going on a secret for most of the runtime. The flaws come at the end. The reveal is a bit underwhelming, but what really brings the film down is the coda. It's like a mini sequel already at the very end and takes away from the rest, already springboarding into a franchise. I think it would make a good one, but let the film end before that happens. Other than that, Escape Room is a fun, exciting film to start off the year with.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

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