Saw, meets Cabin in the Woods, meets Belko Experiment… The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
So first I’ll just say something that will help you get through this movie…. go into this movie knowing it’s using the Saw formula… A group of people, picked off one by one, each confronting something in their past… With that said, I enjoyed it…. didn’t think I would…. and I’ll see the sequel… now on to the review…
BOOM CRASH BREAK! As soon as the movie starts, a character who will later be identified as Ben falls from the ceiling. He must enter in a sequence of 4 numbers to exit the room. As he selects the first number, the room begins to close in on him!.. With only inches left Ben appears to have solved the puzzle but the room keeps closing in on him! We fade to black and see the title of our movie… ESCAPE ROOM! You get exactly what this movie is about and your heart is already pumping.
CHARACTERS: They don’t waste time with character back stories… this might suck for some movies but for a movie with 6 main characters, we really don’t need to know everything about every character at once. We more or less get to know them as the movie goes on.
We got the reclusive nerdy girl, the redneck trucker, the rich Wall Street guy, the no nonsense military female, the nerdy guy, and the live at home did nothing with his life kid…
The focus ends up closing in on three characters and more or less bum rush you with the other ones. I actually liked the characters, I felt JUST enough connection where I liked them enough to feel bad when they died and happy when they made it through to the next room. With Saw, I was like “ok he was an asshole, NEXT!”
PREMISE: They dont waste your time in this movie and get you right into the rooms! In short, an ominous company named Minos has invited a select group of people to join them in their escape room where they could win $10,000 if they succeed. Obviously things turn awry when the waiting room ends up being the first escape room that starts cooking them alive… And so we begin.
NO JUMP SCARES: Don’t need to turn away as the music turns silent and you can relax your clenched butt cheeks… The only “Jump scares” are part of the action scenes so you’re ready for it.
SUSPENSE: The movie is predictable as far as the plot goes… But trying to figure out the details of that plot is what’s fun…. I kept trying to figure out who might not be who they say they are. Was there an inside man/woman? What room reflects this person? Are they all connected and if so how?! I was wrong in every scenario…
Come to find out they are all connected by being the lone survivor in tragic events such as plane crashes, explosions, lost at sea, mineshaft accidents, and so on… so they are all selected to see who really is lucky when it comes to this mathematical improbability…
THE ROOMS: The rooms are nicely designed, more creative than SAW when it comes to the demise of others.. SAW relied on the gore where Escape Room has you trying to solve the puzzle with them… I mean I was even trying to see if the music in the background of the billiard room had a clue… so very immersive when it comes to mental engagement.
Not enough clues to be rewarded as a viewer. I want to feel like I have a fighting chance figuring out the puzzle, almost like I am there with them… When the characters are trying to figure out the puzzle’s, they were figuring it out quicker than Nicolas Cage in the “National Treasure“ franchise. Zoey in the first room sees a cup that reminds her of her plane crash, and Amanda starts getting random PTSD when the room starts getting hotter so Zoey gives her a glass of water… 10 seconds later and somehow the characters end up finding out that they have to fill cups of water to place on the coasters so the escape hatch opens leading to the next room seconds before they would’ve been incinerated. Also, it was Ben’s addiction to alcohol and sneaking in a flask that ends up being just enough liquid to fill the last cup.
Most of the clues that got them out of the situation they were in are discovered almost by accident and while each room was supposed to link their personal stories together it really doesn’t connect and that’s why I feel they created the idea of these rooms first and tried to write plot and character back stories around it.
The movie has three endings in the last 15 minutes. Keep in mind everything that I am about to tell you happened in the last 15 minutes of the movie…
Remember the beginning of the movie? Ben was in the last room and the way that scene ends it would appear Ben dies… But surprise surprise! At the end of the movie he makes it as the room closes in on him and shoves him through the other side of the fire Place… he gets his $10,000 right?
Wrong!… This movie takes the “Taken” and “Hostile” franchise “rich globalist millionaires” route where there are several online viewers and voyeurs who are subscribing and putting money on who’s going to survive and which characters are in play or not… Turns out the “game master” has been doing this for a very long time and lets Ben know there’s never a winner… Viewers don’t want a winner and so now The “game master” starts to strangle a very injured Ben… Only to be saved by Zoey with a gun… Sidenote… you have to suspend reality at multiple points in this movie where a girl who is 100 pounds soaking wet and an alcoholic loaner with zero muscle mass somehow find the strength and agility to get through the obstacles placed in front of them… Back to the review You see, Zoey pretended to be dead 2 rooms ago and you find out later she escaped by overpowering two Russian sounding guards in hazmat suits and takes off with their gun! Obviously… Now that the game master is dead and they have escaped they are in the hospital and tell their story to the authorities, movie over… Or is it?
Nope, that’s just the first ending! Zoe returns to the scene of the crime with the police to find out that in just a few hours all traces of this elaborate Multi escape room set up are gone! All that’s left is a bunch of graffiti in a random abandoned building. The detective tells Zoey that there was a hallucinogenic‘s in their blood system so they probably just imagined everything… that’s it… they all go home… unsolved mystery… no further investigation…. sigh… Fast forward six months later and they are having lunch and discussing how great their lives have turned out but Zoey can’t let go of the past and has created a book of newspaper clippings of all the suspicious deaths of the others who died in the maze. This Minos group has covered up the murders to look like accidents. Ben tells her to get over it, they almost died and he likes his new position/promotion at work… Are you getting overwhelmed yet? It takes all of about three seconds to convince Ben to risk his life/job again because Zoey has decoded the escape room company (Minos) logo giving a location of their possible headquarters! Gasp! They buy their plane tickets and on their way they go! We cut to a chaotic scene where an engine of an airplane has exploded and is crashing while numerous people on the plane are trying to figure out the clues with the ever so popular “X Marks the Spot” clue.
A flight attendant makes her way to the front of the cabin where she solves another riddle in record time to provide a key that gets her access into the cockpit where she is just a moment too late before they crash into a cliff!…. This happens so quickly that you almost forget Zoey and Ben must be on the plane right?…cue the computer shutting down sound “vrrrooommmmmmmm bloop bloop” In comes the third ending… The “Cabin in the Woods” ending where this is all just a simulation! it wasn’t a real plane, just a simulator in a 360 environment testing out these new escape room ideas! Lots of smart lab coat looking people with clipboards walking around in a state of the art evil lair, full of metal and steel and polished things…. This is the Minos headquarters presumably. Then my favorite part but also sad because it’s the third ending… We see a shadowy figure appear on the screen who resembles “the claw” from the inspector gadget series. He tells them that this is perfect and to put it into action for Zoey and Ben!
NOW THE MOVIE ENDS. So that’s a lot to swallow in the last 15 minutes of the movie… I get why they made the ending the way they did… They needed to close the book on the first escape room deaths where viewers might wonder what happened to the bodies… Then you have to give them a reason to get back together to try and find the people behind this… And then you have to lead us into a Sequel… I don’t know how I would’ve done it differently I just feel it should have been done differently. So I give the movie 3 1/2 out of five stars… or 7 out of 10 stars… whatever measurement rule you want to apply that to…. It’s a likable B-movie that allows you to suspend reality and just go with this wacky universe these characters live in. While I had my issues with the movie, I actually really enjoyed it and seeing as how they made double their budget as of this review I’m sure they will get the green light for a sequel.