Remember, self, say Escape Room, not Escape Plan. Escape ROOM not Escape PLAN.
One ticket for Escape Plan-
While googling Escape Room I was shocked to find so many actual escape rooms in my area. I guess it was only a matter of time before someone tried making a movie about one or set in one.
I mean, that’s how we got the movie Joysticks, someone saw how popular arcades were with young people, so why not set your sex comedy in one!
An escape room scenario seems ripe for a thriller/horror setting. And just based off the trailers, it had this Cube meets Cabin in the Woods feel to it, it goes without saying it absolutely piqued my interest. Then someone pointed out to me the PG-13 rating. That’s when I started to worry.
It was also getting dumped in January, which is also not a very good sign. But then again, Glass is also coming out in January, so maybe this month is no longer the Friday night of television shows. You know, when a show gets moved to Friday nights, it usually spells the series’ inevitable cancellation.
I’m looking at you, Blacklist.
January is a hard time for studios, it’s the beginning of a new year, and they don’t usually have much to offer, so why not dump all the shit out when no one is really paying attention.
Calling Escape Room a horror film was wrong on my part, as it isn’t a PG-13 horror film coming out in January. More like a mystery thriller. And those I’m completely okay with not being as gory as some Saw sequel films are. This is not that kind of movie. But unfortunately, it isn’t Cube either.
There’s only about three or four kills in this and they’re all off camera. I’ll stop you right now if you go into this thinking you’re going to see creative kills or traps.
I’ve seen a lot of these type of films, I could spend page after page listing them, though to be honest I doubt I could remember half of their names as they all blend together after a while.
There is one movie that kept popping into my mind while watching Escape Room however and no, not the 2017 horror movie also titled Escape Room.
I was mostly thinking of the movie Panic Button. It was like Escape Room but set on a plane. This became even more hilarious to me since Escape Room ends with people having to solve a puzzle on a plane as it’s about to crash.
So who exactly is the main character of Escape Room? Is it Zoey? I mean, she is on the poster, yet at times I forgot she was even in the movie. She kind of just blends into the background, not saying much.
They make it seem like Amanda is the main character, played by Daredevil actress Deborah Ann Woll. I’d prefer it if she was the main character, yet she isn’t as she wasn’t introduced to us like our main three. Unlike our other dead meat characters, characters Zoey, Ben and Jason are introduced to us by receiving their invitations to play the rumored to be unescapable Escape Room, offering a large cash prize if they win.
Introducing them doesn’t exactly give them plot armor, but it helps. You know at least one of them will make it out alive. As for the other three we aren’t shown receiving their invitations… that usually means they’re set to die or are in on it.
Before I get into any of that, let’s go back and introduce these characters properly.
In films like this, usually the people are somehow connected to one another and they not know it. Usually it involved the death of someone the “gamemaster” cared for, daughter… wife what have you.
For Escape Room the characters aren’t connected whatsoever. Unless you count the fact they all survived near death experiences where they were the lone survivor.
Of that group is Zoey, the girl on the poster, who survived a plane crash that killed her whole family. She’s an introverted college student with a big brain.
Then there is Ben, who everyone hates automatically for some reason. He survived a car crash that killed all his friends. He’s now a stock boy at a grocery store unable to get promoted to the front of the store since he was the reason a group of kids all died.
Everyone in the escape room group treats him like he’s the biggest asshole in the room, when clearly the biggest douchebag is Jason, this businessman that does business.
Films like these, much like horror films, all have their stock characters, Escape Room is no exception, if anything, it’s the rule.
There’s the tough chick, who is usually the lead or main girl as you might call her. Here, that’s Amanda, an ex-soldier who got badly scarred when running over an IED.
Then there is the asshole business guy. Their characters are usually there to cause conflict with the others trapped, usually resulting in giving us a non-trap kill of another character.
Then there is the idiot savant character, which in this is Zoey. They usually are the ones to make it out alive after our tough chick character sacrifices herself.
Then there is romantic lead, which I guess in Escape Room would be Ben. There isn’t usually much romance in films like these, mostly just something for tough chick to sometimes share gazes with. He’s mostly there to fight the asshole character once he goes off the deep end.
Then there is the older character, most of the time it’s an old lady but here it was Mike, played by Tyler Labine. Older characters in films like these are usually there to feed the meat grinder. Sometimes they are there for comedic relief but in the end, they aren’t characters that ever make it out alive. Think slutty babysitter in a slasher film.
Also always on the chopping block is the nerd character. His role in films like these is to explain things to the audience. Once he out serves his purpose however, which is usually pretty early on… they’re no longer needed and are the first to get killed off. Filling that role in Escape Room is Danny, the kid obsessed with escape rooms.
He’s also the main suspect, for me at least, to being the “gamemaster”. This film you’d think would be riddled with clues, yet nothing seemed to ever lead to anything or connect to anything. They spend an unhealthy amount of time on Ben’s yellow lighter, and by the end we see the guy behind all of this has the same lighter. The last person seen with this light was Danny who was of course the first to die since his purpose for being a character in this expired.
But it doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing comes of it. The same goes for a bunch of other things that just never lead to anything. That might be because this film doesn’t have an ending. I was actually enjoying the film for the first two acts, it’s pretty thrilling and it had me intrigued. Then it completely shits the bed by the end. Instead of ending where it should have, they make the horrendous mistake of continuing, just so they can set up a sequel.
The film starts off in medias res, with Ben seemingly the sole survivor, struggling to decipher the room’s puzzle before he is crushed to death.
As he is apparently killed, we cut back to a few hours before the event happened.
Our characters get puzzle boxes where they have to figure out the mechanics of to receive their invitations to the Minos Escape Room Facility. If they manage to escape, they receive $10,000. I’m guessing each, right? Would suck if they’d have to split that between the 6 of them.
As they get to their destination, they are shown to a waiting room where the characters quickly introduce themselves.
Mike our older character is a trucker that needs the money since his injury and the fear of job instability since robots will be taking his job soon. His character is basically just nice guy you don’t want to see die, who will die.
Jason on the other, he’s the asshole character that will stab you in the back to win. Yet everyone in the room seems oddly charmed by him even though he really isn’t hiding how big of a dickhead he is.
The group’s ire is instead directed towards Ben, our male lead with a drinking problem. He’s kind of apathetic towards everything, but by no means is he giving off hate me vibes.
While waiting in what they think is the waiting room, Ben sets things off by trying to leave for a smoke break. That’s when the door handle comes off to reveal an oven dial.
Once set, the room starts to gradually get hotter and hotter.
Before they are roasted, they discover the table in the waiting room has weight censors, if held down it opens a way out through the air vent.
Once through they make it to a cabin where the clue to the lock was the word “RUDOLPH”. A reference to Ben’s past, as it was the song playing when he crashed his car, killing his friends. How they knew that, I have no idea.
I’m guessing each room is meant to play on each of their fears. The waiting room, maybe was for Amanda, the soldier as she was burned alive. But getting out of the waiting room didn’t require a clue from her past or anyone’s past.
The cabin on the other hand… how could they have gotten out of the cabin if not for Ben’s help? Sure the letters are all on the wall but still…
I haven’t gotten into why this is happening, but I’ll just tell you, it’s about as cliché and generic as it comes. People are watching and they’re betting on who survives. I mean, why try to do better than that Nerve movie with Dave Franco, you can’t improve perfection.
Rich people are paying good money to watch these characters try to escape the traps, yet a lot of what they’re seeing is so damn boring. Forget seeing it as a movie, and just imagine what the spectators are witnessing.
If not for Ben, they’d most likely be spending… I don’t know a couple of hours trying every combination to the lock, then when they get out they have to spend several more hours of them standing in a circle, touching a block of ice, trying to melt it.
They’d literally just be watching ice melt.
Anyway, when they get out of the cabin they find themselves what seems to be outside in the snowy winter.
There’s a single jacket they have to share between them and a fishing hole in the ice. Using a rod and a magnet, they pull up an ice block with a key inside.
Not sure how to get to it, they ask Ben for his lighter. Ben tosses the lighter on the ice and Danny walks over to grab it, only to fall through the ice and drowns.
The only thing this group could come up with on how to melt the ice was to all stand around holding it. Here’s an idea, why not wrap it in the one fucking jacket you guys have? I’m sure that would work a whole lot better than putting your cold freezing fingers on it.
After… I want to say hours since it is now dark outside in the room, they manage to get the key and have to rush to the exit before the ice gives way.
Then they enter one of the film’s coolest rooms where everything is upside down.
It’s made up to look like a bar, the trap here however is whenever the music stops, a piece of the ceiling, or since it’s upside down, the floor drops off, revealing a very long plummet below.
Zoey helps decode the album covers on the wall for the safe combo under the bar counter. Inside the safe is the B ball to the pool table, the key to exit the room.
Everyone is on the opposite side of the room, next to the exit while Amanda is the only one by the safe, who might as well be miles away since the only way to them is to monkey bar across the bolted in upside down pool table.
The 8 ball slips from her pocket while hanging and has to quickly jump after it before it rolls off the side, down the elevator shaft the room is in.
She manages to toss the ball over to the rest of the group but falls to her death.
The next room is where we get our reveal as to how they are all connected. It’s a Saw like grungy hospital made up to look like each of their hospital rooms when they were injured.
Jason, our asshole of the group reveals he was with his roommate when their boat capsized, they had to fight to who got to wear the one jacket. Though it’s pretty clear Jason just killed him for it.
Mike is revealed to have been a coal miner who was trapped with his friend who he had to listen die next to him.
Now distraught, Zoey decides the best way to play the game is to not play it and begins smashing all the cameras in the room.
The trap in this particular room is rigged with poisonous gas. This room felt slightly rushed, as it wasn’t completely clear what they needed to do to survive.
Jason just stumbles on this EKG meter and figures it’s how they get out. They have to raise or lower their heart rate. Thinking at first it’s raise, Jason hooks Mike up to the machine and uses a defibrillator on him, killing him in the process.
Once that didn’t work, it dawns on him it’s lower your heartbeat. My bad, Mike, sorry you’re dead now, bye!
Jason and Ben take off into the next room as gas fills the area. Zoey stays behind smashing shit.
In the next room, Jason and Ben get dosed with some LSD type of drug and need to fight it out for the antidote.
Ben wins, killing Jason and now we are back to where we started in the beginning of the film.
Zoey found an oxygen mask and played dead, so when the people behind the game come out to clean up, she surprises them, knocking them out.
Ben manages to actually survive getting crushed to death and meets the man behind all this. But there’s no prize money for Ben, just a bullet.
Zoey shows up just in time to take out the gamemaster and the two flee the building.
When Zoey comes back with the police, everything has been cleared out.
So for the longest time I thought, oh no, they’re doing the whole this is purgatory ending, aren’t they? They all had near death experiences, I figured it was going to be like Reeker where fighting to survive the room meant surviving to live in the real world, dying meant you went to hell or whatever.
I was wrong, though as cliché as that would have been, I’d still have preferred it to what we actually got.
Like I mentioned, I was satisfied with about 80% of this movie, then it felt like the studio stepped in and decided to change things so they can have more sequels.
It’s a few months later, Zoey and Ben are having coffee together. Ben seems to have finally gotten his life together but Zoey is still obsessed with the escape room and the company that sent them there.
She has tracked down the location of their headquarters and has booked them two plane tickets to go there.
Now this would actually make for a great mid-credit scene. The film should have ended with Zoey screaming about how she deciphered the letters on the wall reading “no way out” or whatever it was, with any trace of the game erased.
Then mention how they plan on taking a plane to find the company, only to have them trapped on a plane, needing to play the game again or they crash.
That would have been a really cool ending, I think. I get the feeling maybe the way the actual ending.
Instead what we get are a set of new characters running a simulation of the escape room on a fake plane, then a shadowy figure warns of Zoey and Ben’s return. It’s so lame that I just stood up and walked out of the theater.
It’s such a letdown of an ending, that pissed me off so much I said out loud as I was leaving “fuck you, movie”.
If there was an after credits scene I don’t know. By the time they would have gotten to it, I was long gone.
All said and done, even with the shitty ending, I’d still say this is worth checking out. I’d give it a RENT rating.
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