After his success with the found-footage horror made for Netflix, The Taking of Deborah Logan, Adam Robitel is starting to make a name for himself with his new venture Escape Room. He has clearly picked up a few tricks whilst working on the latest film in the Insidious franchise and with a mixture of concepts clearly taken from Saw and Final Destination, a great original idea was fully formed to add to his portfolio.
Escape Room opens with a handful of random people, with no knowledge of each other. Each receive a strange box and a singular note inviting them to participate in an escape room. Along with the enticement of receiving a mysterious box, the inner gets a $10,000 cash prize if that successfully escape. Originally thinking the game is only jovial and intended to be fun, they soon realise everything is not as it seems as the rooms transform into deadly contraptions intent in killing them off one by one.
The cinematography that Robitel conjured up for the film allows you to really take in the impossibility of each new challenge room. You will often find yourself questioning how the rooms fit together with the huge traps set for them. As they stumble through each room they find traps that are ever increasing in size and deadliness with puzzles that get more surreal than the last. There is a strange brooding feeling you get as a member of the audience that comes with every new room that they enter. Whilst you try to look for hidden clues in the scenes so you can play along with the characters like an interactive video game, you find yourself curling up in dread for when they set off the next trap. Each book they pull off the shelf and each step they take across the floor, you hold your breath for a second trying not to get surprised by a deadly rendition of a saw trap.
Robitel explores some fun concepts along with the main plot, the escape room itself is encased within a secret organisation plot that conducts experiments for high paying clients. We find out at the end of the Saw-esque mystery that the escape room is not the only one running. An action packed escape room in the theme of a plane crash ends in a simulation over screen as we get a good look at the gamemasters base of operations. The idea that further films could follow a whole new challenge with different characters, and exciting themes could only let down by an unimaginative mind. Hopefully enough at the box office could fund a crazy follow up film that is deserving of the mystery thriller genre, but Escape Room does a great first job.
However, with all that concepts they pulled off well, they also fell short on a few things. Cube is an exciting film from 1997, it is one of my go to films when I need something exciting to watch when bored. You can see how much inspiration they pulled from it when it basically becomes a reskin of the film with the idea of puzzles to escape each room. One scene that really comes to mind when I think of unexplored idea’s is the first character death. They are sliding around on thin ice when they realise they need a lighter to get to the key. One character throws their lighter that they smuggled in across the ice to use, but when the other picks it up the ice basically swallows him whole instantly. At first I thought it to be a security system for contraband but they never explained it, so I began to question if it was just an unlucky death. I love the idea that the room expels anyone in it with smuggled items they weren’t allowed as if they were a virus but it left me wondering to this day.