From the director of franchise low-point (and that’s saying something) Insidious: The Last Key, comes this initially promising but ultimately frustrating horror-thriller. The Cube-meets-Saw premise is enticing enough: lured by a sizeable cash prize, six strangers participate in the world’s most challenging escape room, and as they go from room to room, they start to realise that they’re not so much playing for money as for their lives.
For a while, it looks like director Adam Robitel and screenwriters Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik might actually make good on a semi-decent concept: the rooms are decently constructed, with each challenge bringing a new colour scheme and style. Production designer Edward Thomas clearly had a blast setting up the increasingly treacherous sets, especially the excellently filmed upside-down room. And the puzzles may well have viewers attempting to solve them alongside the largely despicable protagonists. But as the story progresses, Escape Room slowly but surely nosedives into all-out stupidity. It culminates in a lazily written climax with a ludicrously unearned twist ending. And any attempt to answer the many questions the film sets up is eschewed in favour of shameless sequel-baiting. It’s such a crashing, studio-mandated let-down that everything that precedes it becomes tainted, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth.
Escape Room | Directed by Adam Robitel (US, 2019), with Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis.
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