TO YOU BY:
Escape Room contains a genuinely great idea for a horror film: find the hints, solve the puzzles, survive. Yet a poor choice in director, a lazy screenplay, and subpar acting can only assist a neat concept so far.
From the director of the atrocious Insidious: The Last Key comes a film that doesn’t stray as far into unnecessary territory as his previous work, yet by the end credits becomes just as redundant and useless. There are a couple of stylish shots displaying the atmosphere that the players are forced to play within, but beyond that, the direction is almost entirely forgettable aside from a single scene that is seemingly trying to force seizures upon the viewers with so many flickering lights and hallucinating imagery all at one time. The film doesn’t feel low budget enough to garner a SAW original vibe, but it does share a similar theme for a portion of the film before the writers forget all about the plot they began two rooms ago.
Just as mentioned, the writers were all over the place with this film. They kept the film fascinating and relatively put together until the third room, although the downhill slide potentially began in the second, as things quickly started to make less and less sense. The film spirals down a questionable path of believability that opens up more and more questions with no answers to be found.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Tyler Labine, star of Tucker and Dale vs Evil, was genuinely the main reason I was excited for this film to be released. We just don’t see enough of the man unfortunately - and also unfortunately for him, his part isn’t as grand as fans may want. With new actors hitting the scene, he’s one of the only recognizable faces to be found, and that isn’t an issue as long as the acting around him works. Sadly, the support around Labine - including (SPOILER) the “final girl” are pathetic and whiny the entire feature. The circumstances they are in were brought upon themselves because of their own personal curiosity and greed. They weren’t dragged into it, but the reason they were all invited is an incredibly lame excuse for the film to exist. With constant character deaths that are hard to care about, the winner of Escape Room really doesn’t matter to the viewer - especially when the ending plays out in a sequel bait way that will make true cinephiles groan at the sight. Poor character development paired with sloppy flashbacks to showcase a few subtle background moments don’t provide enough substance for myself to give in to these overacting and underperforming actors on screen.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
A tad over redundant with nothing we haven’t heard before, it’s incredibly reminiscent of newer horror films - including the likes of similar outings, The Belko Experiment and SAW. The sound design works rather well, creating a suspenseful time centric atmosphere, so all in all not bad when it comes to the sound design of the traps or environments.
The set design is incredibly well done in Escape Room, with the traps authentically being the best part of the film - at least until the final two. The design was smartly executed, and the best part of the film; it’s a shame that the director couldn’t focus more on the characters to make these dynamic sets work wisely with those within them. Hints were sprawled around, expecting the audience to believe that a small feature of the wall and letters will make an idea click in a participant’s head when there’s almost no way a person could succeed at what these people are doing within the runtime of Escape Room. Even with these exhausting hints, the design is incredibly nice and deserves the best - as well as a much better movie.
It’s quite possible that you saw the trailer just as I did and was wondering if this would be the next SAW franchise on the horizon. Unfortunately for fans of that series, there’s just not enough passion placed within the project, hammering away at all the good elements with poor characterization and idiotic sequel bait at the finale. Beyond the irritating PG13 rating, this film isn’t a SAW film. It could have been something new and refreshing, but it failed to capture anything to keep the theater goers in their seats. For some, they may just want to escape the theater as soon as possible.