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Review: Escape Room

Escape Room
7 10

PLOT: Six strangers find themselves invited to a mysterious new “Escape Room” experience. However, once they arrive, they come to the realization that their very lives are at stake.

REVIEW: Here we are in 2019, and our very first PG-13 genre entry is about to make its way into theatres. ESCAPE ROOM is very likely exactly what you think it is, a group of six strangers find themselves trapped in a deadly game of survival. Just think SAW or CUBE but add the modern element of the “escape room” storyline. If you are unaware of what that is - and I doubt that you are - it is a place where you are locked in until you find clues to get out. This thriller starring Deborah Ann Woll, Taylor Russell, Tyler Labine, Logan Miller, Nik Dodani and Jay Ellis takes that modern source of entertainment and turns it into something deadly. However, the biggest surprise, what could have been yet another crappy tame thriller like WISH UPON or SLENDER MAN, is thankfully a whole lot more enjoyable than you may expect.

The film follows six secretly connected strangers. Zoey (Russell) is a shy but brilliant college student, one that even her professor (Cornelius Geaney Jr.) thinks should take more chances. She, along with five other individuals, including a successful and arrogant businessman (Ellis), a grocery store worker (Miller), a truck driver (Labine), a mysterious woman with burns on her neck (Woll) and an escape room enthusiast (Dodani), all find themselves gathered together for what promises to be an amazing adventure; one with a steep financial reward. However, once they are locked inside, they discover that this isn’t simply a game, this is life or death. Soon, the clock is ticking and the six must find clues to try and survive at any cost.

escape room adam robitel bragi schut deborah ann woll taylor russell tyler labine logan miller nik dodani jay ellis horror joblo.com mystery thriller 2019There is nothing particularly new here. In fact, ESCAPE ROOM could have easily suffered from many of the issues that plague this kind of early January release. The rating limits the gore - imagine a bloodless SAW sequel - in fact, none of the kills are particularly gruesome. As well, even with the “escape room” setting, you’ve seen this type of thriller a few times before. However, the filmmakers manage to inject a bit of life and energy into this nifty little flick. Directed by Adam Robitel (THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY), with a script by Bragi Schut and Maria Melnik, there is an entertaining quality to this slick and slightly twisted entry. Perhaps it is the mystery element, even if the ultimate reveal is a tad convoluted and messy. Yet it is a quite a bit of fun getting there.

One recent trend in mainstream PG-13 horror is the lack of interesting characters. Much like the recent, and terrible, SLENDER MAN, you get a bunch of vapid and miserable stereotypes that you don’t give a damn about. ESCAPE ROOM manages to not only avoid that trap, but it brings in a very talented and engaging cast. Taylor Russell is quite good as a girl trying to overcome her own social fears. And then you have pros like Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine who help add a bit of class to the feature. Logan Miller has come off a couple of interesting films including THE SCENT OF RAIN & LIGHTNING and LOVE, SIMON and he continues to impress here. While both Dodani and Ellis were quite good, they also happen to inhabit the most obvious genre staples, but their characters worked well enough to warrant a bit of interest. Ultimately all the actors work well together giving the audience something to warrant genuine interest in their horrifying situation.

escape room adam robitel bragi schut deborah ann woll logan miller nik dodani jay ellis tyler labine taylor russell horror thriller mystery joblo.com 2019As mentioned, if you are looking for a lot of bloody sequences of terror, you won’t find it here. Instead, the material places focus on the mystery element of who would survive and what ultimately binds the six together. Thankfully, the escape room set pieces are also quite inventive. While some of the fire effects didn’t work as well as they could have, the film still manages to create a number of intense sequences. My biggest complaint is probably the final few minutes. Oftentimes, the reveal isn’t nearly as satisfying as the ride itself, and there is some truth to that here. Even still, it didn’t quite diminish the quality of what came before, but the film could have worked without it. In fact, they could have saved all of it for the inevitable sequel - depending on the box office take of course.

ESCAPE ROOM may not reinvent the wheel or shock audiences with any major revelation, but it certainly manages to entertain. This is the type of film that works thanks to putting the right parts together. Robitel does a nice job of creating a tense environment, and the script and actors manage to make the insane situation work much better than you’d expect. If you happen to be looking for a decent popcorn flick in the midst of the current award season, you could do a whole lot worse. This is the rare film that pretty much offers exactly what you’d expect, and in this case it’s not a bad thing at all.

Source: JoBlo.com

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