January, usually the time of the year when studios dump their bad movies, was quite good last year with movies like Den of Thieves, Maze Runner: Death Cure, 12 Strong. Thus, fingers crossed this January also surprises us with movies like Glass, Replicas etc. Directed by Adam Robitel, Escape Room is about a group of 6 individuals, who we later learn each have traumatic pasts, attempting to solve complex puzzles in different environments in the hopes of winning $10,000. Unlike a regular puzzle, this puzzle actually has stakes and you could die anytime. The best way to describe Escape Room is that it feels like the movie Cube meets a PG-13 Saw with a tinge of Belko Experiment.
Positives – The set pieces are quite cleverly executed yet deadly, especially the upside-down bar set. Our heroes face terrifying rooms with extreme warmth and then cold, the aforementioned inverted bar, a surgery room, and a living room with the walls closing in. Another aspect of the movie I liked is that each ‘Escape Room’ has a connection to the traumatic pasts of the characters, which absolutely worked and made it a little more personal. Because they faced their painful pasts through these life-or-death situations, their frustrations are more palpable. As for the performances themselves, they are good for the most part. Deborah Ann Wolf, who plays Karen Page in Marvel’s Daredevil, is great in this movie and her physicality is one of the reasons for the upside-down bar scene being so memorable. The other actors like Taylor Russell and Logan Miller also have a couple of good moments to demonstrate their acting chops on screen.
Negatives – The movie starts in media res with Miller’s character in an increasingly- claustrophobic living room setting, which is pretty intense but is 100% unnecessary. Even though it doesn’t prove the other characters already met their demises , it spoils a major part as to who is going to survive the previous escape rooms. Even though we get a little backstory for the characters, it is ultimately not enough for us to be really invested in them. It also doesn’t help that half the characters are unnecessarily dicks to each other. But the biggest culprit of all is the ending. The ending is really disappointing and it is quite evident the filmmakers are not sure how to properly end the movie. Instead, they blatantly attempt to set up a sequel rather than resolving the movie’s story arcs.
Rating – Whilst not a great movie and definitely a premise we’ve seen before, Escape Room is a semi-fun, palatable January movie. 2.5/5*
* You might think a 2.5/5 is an F and mathematically speaking, it is a 50%. The way I rate movies – 1 (sucks), 2 (bad / meh / okay depending on the decimal), 3 (good), 4 (great), and the rare 5 (perfect).