Hollywood has discovered a goldmine in modestly budgeted yet surprisingly lucrative horror-thrillers. Production companies such as Blumhouse can churn these films out at little cost and make a ton of money in return. These movies never end up among the highest grossing films, but they draw a big enough audience to earn substantial profits.
“Escape Room” is one of 2019’s addition to this popular sub-genre. With $155 million earned against a meager $9 million budget, it’s not only considered a box office success, but you can be sure that a sequel is already in the works. Whether that’s a good thing…we’ll get to that later.
On sheer concept alone it’s hard to avoid instant comparisons to the “Saw” franchise. “Escape Room” isn’t as gruesome or grisly and it’s distinctly aimed at the PG-13 crowd. But its basic idea must have been inspired in some degree by the eight-film (so far) “Saw” series.
In Chicago six total strangers from various walks of life each receive a mysterious puzzle box. Inside is an invitation to an Escape Room challenge where the winner will receive $10,000. College student Zoey (Taylor Russell), daytrader Jason (Jay Ellis), stockboy Ben (Logan Miller), truck driver Mike (Tyler Labine), Army vet Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), and video-gamer Danny (Nik Dodani) all arrive at the address provided and are ushered into a waiting room. And wouldn’t you know it, the waiting room is actually the start of the game.
Basically it works like this, each booby-trapped room features a host of hidden clues that reveal how to escape to the next room. Oh, and failure to do so within the set amount of time has fatal results. Along the way we learn the strangers were chosen for a reason and they share a rather unique bond. But as more of their individual personalities surface, teamwork turns into survival of the fittest.
There really isn’t much more to “Escape Room” than that. Yes, each room becomes more challenging (and more deadly). Yes, a little more is revealed about the characters and the thread that binds them. Yes, some rooms are clever and visually captivating and director Adam Robitel does some interesting stuff with his camera particularly in playing with perspective. But the movie eventually runs out of ideas and ends up beating the same drum as it hops from one room to the next.
And then you get to the final act where the whole thing flies completely off the rails. You learn early on to switch your brain off, but even that can’t cover the ludicrous finale. Things get so ridiculous and we’re asked to buy into the wackiest ending and sequel setup. If you don’t think about “Escape Room” you could probably find some decent throwaway entertainment. But once you look even an inch below the surface, the whole thing comes unglued.
VERDICT – 2 STARS
This was like Saw if Saw was boring, really lame and had no gore. I worry about Deborah Ann Woll now that Daredevil is cancelled, she deserves better than being in films like this
That sums it up right. It had some fun moments but it was so short on ideas. And that ending….good grief that ending….
This was dreadful. Not only did it run out of ideas, it ran out of them quick. Doesn’t help that the first two rooms are the best. And yeah…that finale…sigh.
You kinda know right out of the gate that it’s going to be pretty lightweight. But boy did it run out of steam quick. Admittedly, I had some fun with a scene or two but there simply isn’t enough here.
Ya know people moan about Marvel & Superheroes taking over the box office, but really there’s more bloody stupid horror movies than any other genre out there! Boils my piddle!
You are so right!!!
By the way, as a silly American I’ve never heard “Boils my piddle!”. But I love it and plan on using it myself! 😁
The ‘real’ saying is ‘boils my piss’ 😳 so it isn’t surprising you haven’t heard my old school version. Will be honoured to have you adopt it.
LOL! I think I’ll stick with your old school version!!! 😂😂😂
If it’s on TV, I’ll check it out but probably wouldn’t expect anything big. Just… eh…
It’s definitely throwaway entertainment. Don’t spend any money on it! LOL
I did miss seeing this movie in theaters. Didn’t look that good to begin with. I might check out…just for reviewing sake.
You didn’t miss much. I skipped it in the theaters too. Kinda glad I did. 😉
I think I’m the only guy who didn’t mind this. My take was more middling, but I remember this being a January surprise. Not really for the acting though.
I was with it for a bit. It just seemed like they completely ran out of ideas. And that ending was pretty goofy. Still, it could have been worse (not the most ringing endorsement, I know 😂)
I don’t intend to see it, but from what I’ve heard, I would compare it to the Maze Runner trilogy.
It’s really pretty lame. It has a couple of good ideas but it runs out of steam well before the end.