‘Escape Room’ (Review) – Think ‘Clue’ with more blood

Directed by: Will Wernick
Written by: Noah Dorsey
Stars: Evan Williams (“Awkward” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Annabelle Stephenson (“Revenge”), Elisabeth Hower (“Louie”, “Suits”) and Billy Flynn (“Days of our Lives”).
Rating: R — Runtime: 81 Minutes
Our Rating: ★★★

From the very beginning of the film Escape Room you already know this is probably not going to end well for at least five of the six people who embark on this adventure. The adventure of course as the title suggests, is to survive a night in one of many downtown Los Angeles escape rooms. Escape rooms involve being locked (on-purpose) in a room with a group of people who make up a team. The team must work together using provided clues to solve riddles or puzzles to unlock the door to freedom. It’s basically a scavenger hunt on the inside. In the film, this group of game players consists of three couples that journey to an escape room to celebrate the main character Tyler’s (Evan Williams) 30th birthday. His girlfriend Christen (Elisabeth Hower) gifts him with the game. Because this is a horror film, the details of how Christen found this particular escape room company are suspicious. Let’s just say she didn’t use Groupon.

Each couple is blindfolded and brought to their individual rooms at an undisclosed location. One they remove the blindfolds the game starts and it becomes obvious they aren’t going to be greeted with applause and friendly faces in the end. In fact, if you don’t complete each room in this in the time frame allotted – you die. Whoever is behind this particular escape room obviously has been doing his/her shopping at the same acme warehouse as Jigsaw because the deaths are just as gruesome. Anytime, someone is melted with acid, you got to admit that’s a good time in horror land.

There characters are pretty typical for a horror movie. However, there are a couple of backstories I’m actually a bit curious about. Two of the characters are having an affair, which leads us the viewer to think momentarily the affair is the root of the death count. It’s not, but kudos to writer, Noah Dorsey for a well-done red herring. All the actors do a good job with making us feel the direness of their individual situations. Director, Will Wernick, with each scene manages to build on each intense moment, making us the viewer almost as stressed as the participants.

Even though the overall film is really entertaining, the ending left me a little puzzled, pun intended. When the last person/person(s) is left standing (so not to spoil too much), the mastermind provides us with a speech filled with social commentary of our culture. Something along the lines of how we pay for different adventures in our lives. I can’t decide on whether we are being judged on paying money to be frightened. Or, being judged for the sheer debauchery we sometime enjoy. The ending also provides a clear plan for a sequel, which is already in the works.

Lionsgate’s Escape Room doesn’t rewrite the genre but it’s pretty solid for an On-Demand, video release. Escape Room is out on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand October 17.

HorrorFatale says – See it!