Escape Room (2019)

Premise: Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive.

Escape Room was a fairly decent thriller for about 2/3s of its runtime. For the other 3rd, it was pretty rote with underdeveloped characters, derivative set pieces, and an ending that felt like a first draft fever dream.

The people who end up in the titular escape room together are strangers who get the bare minimum of backstory until a sloppy exposition dump about halfway through it. The writing isn’t great. As to be expected, a lot of infighting and conflict arises among the group. But the drama between them feels so manufactured and lazy that I had to roll my eyes at a few parts.

But I didn’t see Escape Room for deep characters. I was intrigued by the concept and was genuinely curious if it would amount to anything past being a Saw 2 and The Cabin in the Woods retread. Escape Room does succeed in having a couple cleverly constructed sequences. The upside down pool hall set, in particular, is very cool and managed to keep me in suspense. There’s also a trippy drugged sequence that I thought was a clever way to keep things fresh late in the film.

However, once Escape Room gets to its third act, the whole thing kind of falls apart. The climax of the movie, the denouement, and the last scene all feel cobbled together. There’s a really silly payoff to something earlier in the movie that almost made me laugh out loud. It’s pretty ridiculous.

But all in all, I actually liked Escape Room a bit more than I expected to. But I didn’t expect to like it at all. So, there’s that. I will say, it feels like Escape Room is a bit of a throwback to late 90s and early 2000s teen/PG-13 thrillers. I don’t know if that was intentional or indicative of a lack of originality, but either way it worked on me at least a little bit.

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