“Escape Room” offers a thrilling puzzle for audiences, but what’s left at the end feels unfinished.The film begins when six strangers are offered the chance to play an Escape Room scenario with a cash prize of $10,000.
The strangers bring separate talents and reasons for wanting the prize money. Zoey (Taylor Russell) is a shy student who likes to solve puzzles. Jason (Nik Dodani) is a Wall Street-type with a fancy job, car and suit who knows how to work with people and think outside the box. Ben (Logan Miller) works a dead-end job and is looking for an escape. Mike (Tyler Labine) is a cheery truck driver wanting some fun and money for retirement. Danny (Jay Ellis) likes the interactive simulation he can’t get from his video games. Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll) is solely interested in getting in and out with the prize money as fast as possible.
As the game starts, the players quickly realize one thing: This isn’t a game. The stakes are real, and if they don’t complete the task, find the clues, and escape, they will die.
Fun for the audience comes in watching characters solve clues and waiting for the rooms to reveal their hidden dangers. The film also challenges the viewer to decipher why each person was chosen and what team members have in common. Who is going to win? Who is next to die? And who is behind the whole plot?
Dangers include heat, cold, collapsing floors and walls that close in on players. There are tests of mental and physical strength and stamina. All these entertain, to a point, but after awhile, watching characters leave and enter room after room becomes tedious.
Just when you start to wonder where this is going and what is the point, big bombshells begin to drop and the answers fall into place. The last few acts provide some clever and tense thrills as characters try to survive. Just as the film finds its stride, it loses it in an unsatisfying, messy conclusion.
Ultimately, “Escape Room” is a mixed bag: It offers fun thrills, but lets the audience down on the final pay off. While players each offer a special talent, none are developed beyond a traditional stock character. The escape rooms have their own twists, clues and purposes to drive the story forward, but an inanimate room taking the place of a villain leaves much to be desired.
Still, “Escape Room” is not without its moments as a mysterious, survival thriller. Like its characters, if you’re looking for an escape, excitement or entertainment, head to “Escape Room.” However, if you’re looking for a more memorable and less deadly experience, you might try a real escape room.