Sony Pictures is releasing a sequel to 2019’s Escape Room next year, so some friends and I figured we’d go back and watch the first movie in preparation. Pulling in $150 million on a relatively modest ($9 million) budget, it’s no surprise that the studio is trying to turn this one into a franchise.
The movie has a pretty solid cast, with some faces I was not expecting to pop up. Logan Miller is really solid, but it’s hard for me not to hate him after the character he played in Love, Simon (one of the best romcoms in recent years imo). Deborah Ann Woll is a face I recognized from a guest appearance on Critical Role, I had no idea she was an actor! Newcomer Taylor Russel was really good too, I hope to see her in more stuff down the line. Now, let’s get to the actual story here.
Here’s the thing, I have no beef with gimmicky-ass horror movies. In fact, I’m kind of a sucker for them. Escape Room’s whole gimmick is playing off of real-life escape rooms (are those still popular?), but putting the participants in real, life-threatening danger. From a room that is an actual oven, to one that suspends the participants over a 20-story drop, this mysterious and exciting escape room quickly becomes a situation of life or death. It’s a fun romp, but damn they really lost me at the end.
It turns out that the different escape rooms were designed specifically for the participants, and that their gathering here was far from a coincidence, as they’ve all got some pretty big demons in their past. It’s actually kind of an interesting idea! Just one thing, James Wan and Leigh Whannell did it 17 years ago.
Escape Room becomes a blatant Saw ripoff with its plot twist and final scenes. A bunch of people who’ve all done shitty, maybe even horrible things are put in a room(s) designed to kill them, and are tasked with escaping. They die one-by-one in horrific fashion, all in the name of some “game.” What’s more, there’s some “mastermind” pulling all the strings behind closed doors the entire time. Sound familiar?
They also do some heavy sequel-baiting at the end, with our two survivors booking a flight to New York to investigate coordinates tied to the group behind the first escape room. Luckily for Sony, the movie made about 16X its budget, so sequel it is.
I’m not trying to just bash Escape Room. Like I said, I can vibe with gimmicky-ass horror movies that are nothing more than a quick thrill ride. But man, I wish the filmmakers had found a more interesting way to wrap the story up. I’m looking forward to the sequel, just to see how bonkers they decide to get with this franchise.
Side note: The movie opens with the ending scene. What the hell was that? It doesn't even cleverly play into the story or make you think, they kind of just spoil what character makes it to the end, for no good reason.