Escape Room (2019) — You’ve got 90 minutes to escape this movie

“This is the worst game of Twister ever.”

Justin’s rating: I liked this movie back when they called it Cube

Justin’s review: Not to sound like a hipster — just a guy with hips — but I did escape rooms before they were cool. Well, I did an escape room one time like a decade ago, before they were even called that. It was some sort of “dungeon” experience at a gaming convention that I paid way too much money to do. But it was kind of cool to figure out clues and find a way out of a particular room.

For a kind of Saw-lite concept that’s less on the “torture porn” and more on the “nerdy puzzles” kind of thing, escape rooms are a good concept for a breezy if shallow movie. Just throw a bunch of people into a series of fiendishly deadly rooms that they have to navigate while a “gamemaster” looks on from above and… yeah… we’re playing Dungeons and Dragons. We are, aren’t we?

Escape Room brings six people together — Zoey, Jason, Ben, Mike, Amanda, and Danny — for what’s promised to be the best such experience yet (and with a $10,000 prize to boot, which is quickly forgotten about). The rooms are, indeed, quite immersive, and it isn’t long before they figure out that their very lives are at stake if they can’t get out. Each of the six also are survivors of some sort of past traumatic experience that the rooms play off of, which is about as much real character depth we’re going to get here.

The rooms are the real centerpiece here, and they’re worth the cost of admission (provided that you didn’t pay much, of course). They’re far more elaborate than any real world escape room — and, at times, completely illogical if you consider the logistics involved. I won’t spoil most of them, although I was pretty impressed with the upside-down billiards room.

It’s kind of nice to watch some random group of movie strangers figure out stuff that we probably wouldn’t get anyway. Some of the puzzles are pretty clever; some are moon logic that clearly exist for the writers to pat themselves on the back.

Escape Room was a bit of a surprise hit for the studio, which greenlit a sequel in an attempt to kickstart a franchise. Maybe it will be, but I get the feeling that this “scary death room” genre’s been mined pretty deep already.

Didja notice?

  • Seems like an awfully expensive room to create just to destroy it with smashing walls, eh?
  • Escape Room REALLY wants you to watch Karate Kid
  • “Money can’t buy you happiness but it can afford you your own brand of misery.” I like that quote. Gonna steal it.
  • Yes, dogs do die
  • Wow, this business guy is so condescending
  • And now we’re totally sick of “Downtown”
  • Oh hey, you’re melting. That’s not good.

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