Escape Room: My kind of dumb movie-- A Cinematic Review by Brandon Schreur

Escape Room

Bring on the sequels. I'll see them all, I promise.

Jigsaw might have been released a little over a year ago now, but Adam Robitel just made the best Saw movie since James Wan’s original in 2004 with Escape Room.

Escape Room is the first official film to be released in 2019 — which, usually, isn’t actually a good thing.

For whatever reason, studios often choose the first weekend of the year (and the whole month of January, really) to dump their bad movies that they know won’t make any money during Blockbuster or Oscar season.

More often than not, there’s a pretty terrible horror movie in January, too. Last year, we had Insidious: The Last Key (a film that, funny enough, was also directed by Robitel), the year before that was The Bye Bye Man and the year before that was The Boy and The Forest (which I actually remember liking more than most people even though, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you a single thing that happened during that movie).

Escape Room
credit: YouTube

This year, however, is different. This year we have Escape Room and, I don’t care what none of y’all say, it’s a blast.

The film kicks off with a group of strangers — six in total, but only three are shown during the beginning — each receiving a mysterious puzzle back. None of them have any idea where it came from or why it’s there, but, upon its completion, it reveals a secret, intensive message.

A message that invites all of them to what promises to be the most extraordinary and immersive escape room that any of them have ever experienced.

At this point, I’m just assuming you know what escape rooms are. They’ve become pretty popular over the past few years — which is why it’s no surprise that Hollywood green-lit a movie about them — to the point where even if you haven’t done one yourself (which I, personally, not have), you’re probably still familiar with the concept.

Escape Room
credit: YouTube

The real kicker, though, is that the invitation promises a $10,000 reward if anyone should be able to complete the puzzle.

So, the shy but genius college student Zoey (Taylor Russell), loud-mouth stoner grocery stacker Ben (Logan Miller of Love, Simon), tough-as-nails veteran Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll of Daredevil), cheery but clueless old-timer Mike (Tyler Labine), aggressive Wall Street alpha-male Jason (Jay Ellis) and the 93-time escape room champion Danny (Nik Dodani) all gather inside this abandoned warehouse with hopes of walking out with some extra cash in their pockets.

That was their initial hope, at least. As soon as the challenge starts and they realize that this isn’t really a game and these escape rooms are all deadly, dangerous torture devices, their new hope becomes to just walk out with their lives.

It’s Saw, it’s Cube, it’s The Belko Experiment and it’s everything that’s right up my alley.

Escape Room
credit: YouTube

Now, take that with a grain of salt if you will, as I’m freely willing to admit that Escape Room is a guilty pleasure more than anything — as was the case with Hell Fest, which was a movie I liked far more than everyone else, so I guess this really just speaks to my B-movie taste.

Dumb as the movie might be, I still had a blast with Escape Room while trying to put together these puzzles alongside these characters who, against all odds, I was actually rooting for.

The character set-up in the beginning of the film is pretty sloppy, I’ll give you that. Everything feels pretty contrived (there is quite literally no reason why Jason would enter the escape room for a $10,000 prize when he’s already mega-rich and the way that they address that is stupid) and all six of them play into caricature types who only have one personality type, sure.

Yet, when the six of them actually got together and the back-and-forth begins flowing, I found myself actually kind of engaged with how they were set-up. I liked some of them better than others — with Mike being the surprising stand-out who made me laugh out loud more than once — but the power dynamics at play and the way each of them reacts to certain situations really kind of won me over.

Escape Room
credit: YouTube

Eventually, that does devolve into a pretty clichéd manner, but, honestly, I didn’t even care for the most part because I was really enjoying the overall concept of the movie.

Seeing them enter into these rooms, figure out what death trap awaits them and then try to escape provided a really immersive and well-designed (with the upside-down one easily being the best) feeling that provided what I wanted from Escape Room. The traps themselves may not have been too difficult to solve (I figured out one of them in a literal ten seconds while the characters spent a good five minutes arguing over what it might mean), but it does give you a fun ‘what would you do in their situation?’ kind of feeling through the whole thing.

While that energy is able to sustain itself for quite a while, the film, unfortunately, ends on a pretty rotten note. We get a Maze Runner like ending here where, out of nowhere, we get this clumsy set-up for a sequel instead of providing the audience with any kind of answers.

I’ll admit, though, that I kind of like the fact that we don’t have answers. The idea behind Escape Room is a lot scarier if they don’t explain themselves with a whole bunch of exposition and backstory.

Escape Room
credit: YouTube

That’s why, even with the stupid ending, I’m still on board with an Escape Room sequel. I want to see more of what they can do with this concept and where these characters (please, please, please don’t reboot it with a brand new cast if a sequel does get green-lit) go next.

While Escape Room isn’t a must-see movie by any stretch of the imagination, it was one that surprised me in how bad it wasn’t. When you see a studio dump a horror movie in January, it’s safe to assume that it’s going to be absolute crap. This isn’t crap. This is a good time at the movies for horror lovers, plain and simple.

Watch the trailer for Escape Room here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!

'Escape Room' - My kind of dumb movie [REVIEW]
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.