Borrowing elements from harder-hitting horror titles like Saw, Cube and Final Destination, but in a manner that bypasses much of the gore that the aforementioned relied heavily on, Escape Room taps into the fear and excitement (at least initially) of the titular amusement attraction and flips it into a product far more brutal than the participants expect.
Connecting six strangers through a statistic that only becomes evident to them over the course of their “gameplay”, the film doesn’t exactly break the mould when presenting its half-dozen character archetypes; there’s the shy, brilliant college student (Taylor Russell’s Zoe) who’s pushed to take more chances; a slacker grocery store worker (Logan Miller’s Ben) eager to prove his worth; a successful and arrogant businessman (Jay Ellis’ Jason); the everyman (Tyler Labine’s Mike); a damaged woman of sorts (Deborah Ann Woll’s Amanda); and an escape room enthusiast (Nik Dodani’s Danny).
Character outlines may not be the strongest suit in Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik’s script, but as the film quickly moves along, it becomes evident they have distributed their creativity to other departments of Escape Room‘s being. Horror fans, or more directly those that enjoy the genre to be heavy on bloodshed, are likely to be disappointed with Escape Room‘s violence-lite mentality, but director Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan, Insidious: The Last Key) injects enough tension throughout for viewers to be suitably intrigued and, dare I say, massively entertained.
The mystery element at both the core of the film and surrounding its six key players is what keeps Escape Room at once easily afloat and separated from other teen-aimed genre entries that tend to speak down to their audience rather than indulge them. Here, the set pieces on hand are particularly inventive (one involving a room entirely constructed upside down is a treat), and it helps that the cast involved commit to their characters in a capacity more than what the film deserves.
Escape Room isn’t the type of film that will reinvent the wheel or prove overly shocking to the masses – and its ending is perhaps a little too indulgent for its own good – but there’s no denying the popcorn entertainment value is strong, resulting in a neat thriller that’s far more entertaining than it has any right to be.
About Escape Room
Escape Room is a suspense thriller about six strangers who find themselves in circumstances beyond their control and must use their wits to find the clues or die.
Escape Room (M) is screening in Australian theatres now.