Escape rooms are all the rage right now, so it was only a matter of time before Hollywood decided to get in the mix and try and make a quick buck off their popularity – doing so here with the aptly named Escape Room. Escape Room follows the story of six strangers who are offered a chance to win $10,000 by successfully escaping, yup, an escape room. We get a brief introduction to a few of the characters starting with Zoey (Taylor Russell) who is a college student that is incredibly bright, but even more shy. Zoey is about to be on break from school and her professor encourages her to do something that scares her during her time off. When Zoey receives a mysterious package from her professor containing a puzzle that has the escape room invitation, she has no reason to question its validity. We also meet Jason (Jay Ellis) who is a hot shot stock broker that seems to be enjoying life. Jason gets the same mysterious box that Zoey received from one of his big clients and feels like he can’t turn down the gift from him. Lastly, we’re introduced to Ben (Logan Miller) who is a down on his luck stockroom worker at a grocery store. When Ben gets the same box from his boss, and sees the chance to win $10,000, he knows he must take advantage of the opportunity to make some serious money.
To enter the escape room, everyone must turn in their cell phones at the front desk, conveniently isolating them from the outside world. Once entering the room, we’re introduced to the final three members of the team. Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll) who is a veteran suffering from PTSD, Mike (Tyler Labine) a truck driver who has some serious accident in his past, and Danny (Nik Dodani) a video game nerd who also happens to be an escape room aficionado. Before the six of them know it, the game begins when a door knob breaks off a door revealing an oven timer. Zoey quickly realizes that the timer must be set at 451 when she sees a copy of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in the room. Doing so literally turns the room into an oven, and as much as Danny insists that this is just an incredibly immersive escape room, a sense of dread begins to set in on the others. As the film goes on, we learn more about the backstories of these characters and that they may be linked more than anyone had originally realized. The six of them will need to work together, and get over horrors from their past, if they want to get out of the hellish trap that they have found themselves in.
Escape Room is full of over-the-top settings and deadly obstacles around every corner. Writers Bragi F. Schut and Mari Melnik as well as Director Adam Robitel don’t hold back when it comes to absurd situations that all our hopeful survivors find themselves in. Through their journey, there are a ton of crazy rooms that they must encounter all with their own unique dangers. I found it very entertaining sitting back and watching each new room being entered, somehow managing to outdo the past one. There were many flaws and head scratching moments – and I’m going to be honest – the ending leaves a lot to be desired, but somehow it did seem to work. I was hoping that Escape Room would be more unique and not just fall into some tired Hollywood narratives that we’ve seen, but unfortunately it wasn’t able to do that. Escape Room is a short and sweet ride – it’s not amazing or revolutionary – but it was fun, and I could see it easily leading to more films in the franchise. If you want a silly thriller, don’t hesitate to check it out.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5