“Escape Room” wastes much of its potential and ingenuity trying to impersonate “Saw” or “The Belko Experiment” rather than trying to be its own movie.
“Escape Room” follows six individuals who all have the distinction of being sole survivors — the only survivors of horrific events, such as a plane crash, a cave collapse and an IED blast in Iraq.
“Escape Room” starts off interestingly as characters deal with the fallouts of their near-death experiences and are then invited to participate in the escape room challenge with the hopes of winning $10,000 which would be a help to all of them.
Once the game begins, it becomes apparent that the game is not a game at all. The rooms put them in deadly situations like burning, freezing and falling to their deaths. It also becomes clear that some of the rooms are modeled on the disasters the characters went through. As the danger becomes imminent, the characters must work together to survive and escape.
One of the things the film does best is developing its characters. Due to their shared experience of traumatic experiences, all the characters feel like they are troubled by their pasts, and it is these emotions that spur many of their actions.
Another thing that the movie succeeds in is set design. All of the rooms have a unique feel to them, especially the upside-down bar room. The switching of camera angles helps disorient the audience, and the room itself is stylistically appealing to the aesthetic of the film.
Overall, the film starts off strong, with a cast of well-developed characters and an interesting premise. The first hour is fast-paced and tense with a real sense of the peril aw the characters are placed in increasingly dangerous situations.
However, the last 40 minutes all felt rushed and clichéd. The characters spent a total of approximately fifteen minutes in the final two rooms as opposed to the nearly twenty minutes they spent in each of the previous rooms.
The ending to the movie feels very clichéd, with the true conspirators being forcefully and almost nonsensically inserted without providing an original motive. The film also attempts to set itself up for a sequel, which is a cheap trick that too many films try to accomplish these days.
Overall, the film is a decent attempt at the thriller genre and a more toned-down version of “Saw," but fails to stick the landing and become an original film.