Escape Room (2019) movie review
Escape Room is a horror/thriller that finds six strangers sign on to complete a challenging escape room for a vast amount of money, however what starts innocent enough soon turns into a deadly series of traps. Now they must work together to survive through the series of escape rooms, each more challenging than the last… Escape Room was released in early January this year to a decent box office haul considering its budget of only $9 million, almost ensuring it will get a sequel within the next few years.
So on the subject of not only my new reviews being a bit late, but going back and reviewing films I watched and just didn’t write reviews for, we have Escape Room, after of course the recent popularity of escape rooms. And I’m here to tell you that it’s- okay? Yeah it’s- it’s not bad. Not that good either. Hmm, how can I best describe this? It’s fast food. In this case, it’s short, not too deep or complex, and not necessarily anything you haven’t had before. But it’s cheap, quick food, and sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and try to enjoy it. (Fun fact, I actually did an escape room last month, and we were about twenty seconds from actually succeeding. Sooo yeah, fun times.)
Right off the bat, Escape Room has a big issue with what it sets out to be. While the ‘Saw Jr.’ feel definitely works towards the unique story, despite still using several ideas and tropes from other films, the major concern here is the thoughtful attempt to make it deeper than it is. The film does have its fair share of decent twists and turns, but overall, the choice to add complexity to certain aspects of the story end up making very little sense in the long run. I won’t call it major plot holes, just- okay it leaves major plot holes. On top of that, the film does one particular thing that oh so many other films do now, and despite the fact that it was correct in its assumption, it still drives me nuts when it compromises the story. Yeah, I’m talking sequel-baiting.
That said, the story does lead to plenty of exciting opportunities as far as creativity go. Let me clarify for any film buffs out there. When I say ‘creative’ here, know I mean on a small scale. I already called the film ‘Saw Jr.,’ so now I’m talking about how intricate some of the individual room designs are for example. I did like the way the challenges were set up in this movie though! It felt a bit more personal to the characters at times, and honestly, would have been even better if they had worked in a few of those plot holes as wrinkles in the escape attempts. But one thing that never went away was the constant threat of the room, and in that, this film does a good job!
The characters do range from interesting to rather dislikable. I like that this film starts out with characters that we don’t necessarily know or trust that well. However a few major problems arise. First, by showing us more of some and less of others, the film inadvertently tells us who is important. Tack on starting at the end, and you go into this movie knowing way too much to really feel constant tension like this film wants you to. Second, most of these characters don’t grow on you. Sure the performances are all fine, but even Zoey (Taylor Russell), the lead, never really crosses into likable or relatable. Ben (Logan Miller) is probably the only character we get to know well enough to really understand well enough out of six characters.
Brian Tyler and John Carey’s score is pulse-pounding excitement that I’ve called one of the better soundtracks this year since I listened to it back in February. It’s simple, but it builds on the intense theme perfectly for this film. Aside from that, the quality never really stands out too much. The cinematography is fine, and I did enjoy the overall color palate on display, however there isn’t necessarily anything I would single out as good or bad here.
Really, Escape Room boils down to what you want in a movie. If you go into the film expecting a quality film full of excitement, complex characters, and unique twists and turns in its carefully crafted story, you’ll really hate it. Rightfully so, since it’s not that good! However it is enjoyable, and I think it’s worth noting where that comes from. The story is nonetheless exciting, and the setting-to-setting changes work really well for both creativity and the intense tone, which never lets up! The performances almost make up for the lackluster characters, however even as two-dimensional people, they are still interesting to watch due to the situation they are in. You can’t help but watch this and wonder what you would do, and that makes for an exciting watch! I don’t think I would watch it again, but would I see the sequel? Yeah I see room for improvement. It’s honestly not a terrible watch if you want to just kick back and enjoy the B horror. 6/10
-review by Ryan Prince