Escape or die: Escape Room movie review

Presley Cuneo, North Staff Writer

The movie Escape Room was tragically assumed to be a PG-13 version of Saw, and a desperate grasp to be relatable as the idea of an escape room rises in popularity. Although there were definitely similarities between the movies, and originality was hopefully not what the director, Adam Robitel, had envisioned. Escape Room was surprisingly thrilling and enjoyable. The opening was captivating, the diverse characters were perfect to keep eyes glued to the screen and the lack of gore did not diminish the deaths by any stretch, in contrast, it kept them immensely riveting.

Escape Room is about six very different people with one connection: they all survived a tragic event. This poses a difference to Saw, for the abductions of each character in Escape Room weren’t random, they all had a reason to be there: “Who would be the luckiest of the lucky?” They get invited to an escape room for a chance to win $10,000. Soon they learn that the escape room is no longer a game for money, but a game to survive as they get trapped and must endure every room until they reach the end.

The opening scene of the movie immediately plunged me into thrill and suspense. What I assumed to be the last survivor of the escape room had entered the final room and couldn’t find a way out. As the walls began to close in, he was near death. Then the scene shifted to how it all began. At this point, I was enthralled and wondered what would happen at the end, for it left everyone with a major cliffhanger. A perfect way to keep me watching to the very end.

The characters were all so different in their personalities and backstories that it was satisfying to watch as they all discover that they have to work together and shove down the trauma of their past- something the “game master” constantly wanted to trigger; for each room related to a character’s backstory and how they almost died.

For example, one room was a simulation of winter on a frozen lake. It is later revealed that one of the characters almost died of hypothermia while being stranded on the ocean. The room was a slightly modified version of that person’s near-death experience. This raised more suspense as I wondered how the room connected to a character, how they would react, while also making me continuously curious as to what the next room would hold.

The actors all worked really well together, the variety of people helped keep the movie interesting. There were familiar faces like that of Logan Miller from Love, Simon and Taylor Russell from Lost in Space. Everyone’s acting throughout the roller coaster of suspense and death was fairly realistic. It was a matter of life or death and each actor seemed quite level headed, although I must give props to Russell for her performance of spiraling into insanity and then saving the day in the end. The casting deemed good and I had no problem with the people that they chose.

I could tell that the sets were elaborate and realistic. Every room was different, keeping me refreshed and intrigued with every new scene. The filming strategy they used gave off the perfect balance of “this is merely an escape room” but also the concept that it still seemed like a real scenario. They did this by briefly showing a strangely placed exit or the walls of something that was set outside, but the focus still remained on the concept of the room, like a frozen lake or a waiting room.

As the characters progressed through the rooms, they soon realized that there would only be one survivor, if that. This heightened the tension as the realization set in that this was a fight for survival, but it also set a strange contrast as they still had to work together to solve the rooms.

That being said, one character died in each room, with the exception of the first.  In order to keep the rating PG-13, gore was limited when dealing with each death, but that did not lessen the intensity and horror of each one. The lack of gore contrasts significantly to Saw’s implementation of violence, but Escape Room seemed to defy the idea that thrillers need gore as they made an increasingly suspenseful movie just by the concept of death. If anything, the lack of conspicuous gore set a more profound impression on the viewer because one was left in a state of incomprehension, as some of the deaths were still gruesome- like when one of the characters drowns under a frozen lake. It was more disturbing seeing the lack of blood and just the body slipping away from view.

The only problem with this film was the ending. What I thought would be a perfect way to tie the knot and end the movie instead continued on to set up a brief indication of a sequel. It felt rushed and was the only time where the pacing felt off. It would have done better just to end the movie at a memorable line instead of unnecessarily setting up a sequel that may or may not happen. I understand trying to make a franchise out of Escape Room, but I would be just as content having this as one movie instead of many others that wring out the concept into an even deeper plunge of unoriginality. That being said, it did not take away from the movie as a whole, just something I did not find particularly important to include.

Escape Room may have lacked in the originality and gore department, but it did not take away from the fact that this movie was still enjoyable and worth seeing. The release date was Jan. 4th, 2019 and can be seen in any movie theater near you.

For questions or comments, please contact Presley Cuneo at [email protected]