Escape Room (2019)

Genres - Thriller  |   Release Date - Jan 4, 2019 (USA - Limited)  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review

Everyone loves a good puzzle, and they abound in the Escape Room, but with the twist that you'll die in real life if you don't solve it in time. A solid 'race against the clock' horror film with plenty of visual appeal, there's a lot to like here - especially if you've already enjoyed the mostly borrowed ideas from its predecessors.

A series of mysterious packages arrive, inviting a number of contestants to compete in a new escape room. The reward is $10,000, and the fun factor of being invited to an exclusive mysterious location draws them into an adventure they can't resist.

Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Last Key, The Taking of Deborah Logan) spends more time directing the set pieces than the actors, but that's because the characters take a backseat to the spectacle and rapid sequencing of this film. While the escape rooms aren't any more clever than the audience, they do form the backbone of the story and manage to wrap the elements together to connect everything in the end.

Co-written by Bragi Schut (Season of the Witch, Inversion,) and Maria Melnik (American Gods, Black Sails,) this film is more like a simplified version of a high-concept film. The characters are created for the most part to exist solely in this universe, where they need to rely on their unique skill sets to come together to solve the puzzles, so they can stay alive.

The people chosen to participate in this game have been selected very specifically. Their diverse backgrounds include: Danny, the escape room expert, played by Nik Dodani (Murphy Brown); Ben, who's down on his luck, played by Logan Miller (Love, Simon); Zoey, the collegiate, played by Taylor Russell (Lost in Space); Mike, the trucker, played by Tyler Labine (New Amsterdam); Amanda, a female veteran with PTSD, played by Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil); and Jason, the businessman, played by Jay Ellis (Insecure).

The action begins once the waiting room turns into the first escape room, and doesn't let up until the last puzzle is solved. Whether or not each contestant makes it to the next escape room, they need to rely on their wits, their intellect, their strength, and their past experiences in life, as some of the puzzles seem custom-tailored for them.

Escape Room should make for a fun date night, as the better than average PG-13 chills ensure that nothing too graphic happens, though it's still not appropriate for young kids.