Movie Review: Escape Room

Simple review: Saw-lite

Welcome to January, the wasteland of movie releases. After the holiday season, studios are notorious for dumping their less than appealing movies into theaters to make a quick buck. Not a bad strategy, but for us, the movie-going public, it makes for a challenging month to find stimulating entertainment in the theater, well, on the screen anyway. What happens in the back row stays in the back row! Despite this arduous task before me, I set out to watch a movie to review for your entertainment and I ended up watching Escape Room. Was I able to figure out the puzzle and defeat this film, or did I run out of time and fail miserably, only to be trapped in this one forever? The only way to find out is to enter this crazy room and look for clues to this review. ( I promise the difficulty level is low)

Escape Room is a simple tale of six strangers invited to a mysterious escape room challenge, only to find themselves the part of a dangerous game for survival. Think of Saw meets Cube, only no gore, ambiguous morality or intelligence and you’ve got this flick. The worst thing I can say about Escape Room is that it is not bad enough to be fun nor is it good enough to rave about. It just falls somewhere in the middle. Does this mean I will sleepwalk through this review? Nay, my faithful reader, for I have committed to bringing only my best to you and I could not live with myself knowing I cheated you out of the excellence you deserve in your life! ( O.K. I could live with myself, but I would feel really, really bad for an hour or two.) Sit back, relax and read along as I take you through the good, and the bad, that this movie has to offer and I promise you will be rewarded for your dedication to this blog!

As I watched Escape Room, I was surprised that there were moments that were entertaining and suspenseful. I pegged this for a lame Saw knockoff that would slap me in the face with its stupidity. However, the opening scene threw me right into the dangers facing our intrepid heroes in the escape rooms and I had fun trying to figure out what was going on. It is an edge of the seat opening that sets the movie up nicely as it reveals the dangers as well as leaving you with questions about what happens next. Mercifully, the character setups are done with relative quickness getting to the actual escape room scenarios which is what we came here to watch! There are five escape rooms the victim’s travel trough, and three of them are slick and smart keeping you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see who survives and who bites the dust. I especially enjoyed the pool hall room as it uses clever camera tricks and angles for a dizzying effect. I applaud the filmmakers for keeping the movie moving at a breakneck pace as it never gets bogged down or boring and it held my attention throughout the hour and a half-ish run time.

The performances are what you would expect from this type of movie, serviceable. I only recognized Deborah Ann Woll, who was/is in the Daredevil and Punisher series on Netflix. Other than that I could not place anyone in the cast which works well in this type of movie as you remain clueless as to who the next to fail will be since there are no big stars you expect to survive to the end. Taylor Russell, as Zoey, has the best character arc as she grows from the introverted nerd to a woman not to be trifled with. She does a respectable job in the role and was easy to root for as the film progresses. No one else stood out to me, but they weren’t horrible in their roles either. I guess I am trying to say the acting in the movie is not terrible, there is that easier for you to grasp? Forgive me for trying to sound smart, it takes a ton of work.

While the movie does succeed in a few surprising moments and does keep the attention of the audience as it zooms along, it does have it’s fair share of negatives. This is a gore-less rip off of Saw as the rooms get increasingly deadlier and the reveal of why the people were chosen feels like something from that famous horror franchise. While I am not a huge fan of the Saw series, I did like the challenge those movies made to the morality of the situations. It was hard to not side with Jigsaw as he tried to cleanse the sin from the victims past. Escape Room does not offer any ambiguity to the characters or the situation they are in. They are there for only one reason and only shared one trait that is simply not that interesting. If the reason they were chosen had a connection between all of them, then there could have been more conflict between the characters as they fight to survive. Instead, it feels a bit bland and any conflict feels contrived as strangers would not instantly like or dislike each other.

For me, the biggest misstep of the movie is the ending. I could forgive the wonky dialogue, silly plot issues and average acting as the movie does its best to keep pushing forward to a lame, eye-rolling ending. If the movie had ended with the survivor, or survivors ( I’ll never tell), simply being awarded the prize for completing the rooms, it would have been a great sucker punch to the audience leaving us with as many questions as the characters in the movie. Instead, it is so generic and laughably bad, including the stereotypical British accented exposition spouting henchman, that it almost ruins the goodwill the film had been creating. Sadly, as with a ton of movies nowadays, the filmmakers use the end to take a nice little movie and create this larger world for the inevitable sequel. Just write a complete movie and if it is successful, create an intelligent sequel that builds off the original, stop trying to force the issue in the quest for more money!!

Well, we have successfully examined the clues and found our way out of this review with time to spare. As for Escape Room, I cannot recommend watching in the theater, as you need to save your hard earned money for that gym membership you got back on January 1st and you will be canceling by February 1st. If it makes its way onto Netflix, cable T.V. or some weird website on the world wide web and you want to watch an easily forgettable flick then, by all means, check this one out. It is not a terrible movie, just not one that film school students will be dissecting in class in the year 2055. However, there may be some future hipsters that claim Escape Room is the most important movie made in 2019 in some ironic hipster way. Curse you and your smugness you hipsters, CURSE YOU!!

I hope you enjoyed this awkward review and found a few laughs here and there, as well as some insight into the movie. If you did please like, comment, follow and share so I can make millions of dollars and retire from my boring job, although I would miss the crazy cat ladies I see from time to time!

As always, thanks for your time!

The Movie Psycho

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