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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review: Escape Room

Director: Adam Robitel
Screenplay: Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik
Year: 2019

In recent years escape rooms have gained plenty of popularity around the world. From full establishments to video games and mobile apps are dedicated successfully to this topic. It was just a matter of time for escape rooms to make an appearance in cinema.  I think it was the “Saw” franchise the ones who took this topic to the attention of horror movie fans with their macabre style and dire consequences for escaping. Although they do not make a reference to escape rooms, the elements that make this comparison possible are evident. The most recent to join this trend and which makes a direct allusion to its inspiration is “Escape Room”.

In “Escape Room” six persons are invited to participate in an escape room being promised a reward of 10,000 dollars to whom manages to escape. Once the invited guests reach the meeting point, the game starts without them knowing. Initially, it all seemed like another elaborated escape room, but these six strangers soon find out that their motivation to escape, more than the money, is to remain alive.

At the beginning of the movie, we are presented to a character who seems to have little importance in the movie beyond serving as a vector to present the dynamics of the rooms. Since this first minutes, we discover that the rooms contain real danger and that whoever finds themselves there should be able to think quickly with the pressure of having its life at stake. This scene has a frantic pace that manages that the viewer keeps an accelerated heart rate. This pace is maintained for most of the movie, as once the protagonists get into the game, they are in constant danger and need to act with swiftness. When the pace slows down is either to show the rooms and that the protagonists evaluate their hazards and how to escape or to do some character development.

Something that I much liked was that the movie wastes little time developing characters. The reason why I liked this is that this type of movies does not need much of this. There is time to do it while the movie progresses, and this is precisely what “Escape Room” does. Here the character development takes place while they are making choices and interacting among themselves and with the elements of each room. Besides, all characters have very cliché and contrasting personalities that help the viewer to predict how each of them will act and that all of them can help somehow to solve the puzzles of the rooms. Likewise, the acting is solid and eases understanding the personalities of the protagonists in this cast composed of Tyler Russell (“Lost in Space”), Logan Miller (“Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”), Jay Ellis (“Movie 43”), Tyler Labine (“Tucker and Dale vs Evil”), Deborah Ann Woll (“True Blood”), and Nik Dodani (“Atypical”).

What I enjoyed the most out of the movie was how every room was presented. There is plenty of creativity and originality here and is impossible to predict the topic of the next room. It is also hard to predict the way in which the puzzles can be solved and the awaiting hazards. In addition, the soundtrack is well placed to emphasize the sensation every room tries to convey and the situations that take place in them. I have to give credit to the good work of director Adam Robitel (“Insidious: The Last Key”; “The Taking of Deborah Logan”) and screenwriters Bragi F. Schut (“Season of the Witch”) and Maria Melnik (“Counterpart”) for their creativity and how they craft the plot and sequences to keep the movie ever intriguing, and this without resorting to graphic scenes, keeping a PG-13 rating.

I cannot say that the production is without flaws. Actually, it has some, that to my taste are questionable and end up playing against the movie. The lowest point of the movie is the ending, which does not go in accordance with the rest of the movie. It somehow feels like the production crew could not decide for an ending and they just threw in every idea they came up whit. This results in an ending that is confusing and that takes a toll in the final product.

The way I see it, “Escape Room” is a very entertaining movie, mercilessly ruined by a confusing and logic lacking ending. Still, it is worth to watch and enjoy its originality. The movie leaves the road paved for a sequel and I dare say that this idea will become a franchise the same way that happened with “Saw”. Let us hope for higher production value, that considering what was seen here, it has plenty of potential and can end up in hours of good entertainment.

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