a group of friends visit an escape room after a celebratory birthday dinner. The festivities are cut short when the insufferable scoundrels begin to succumb to grisly deaths for failing to correctly solve each of the puzzles.
Escape Room is really, really dull. It squanders what little potential it might of had by telling its story through the eyes of disposable characters that have zero redeeming qualities. Each and every one of the leads is obnoxious and underdeveloped. I was hard pressed to remember any of their names after the credit rolled. Not to mention, Tyler (the birthday boy) is both physically and verbally abusive to the woman with whom he’s having an affair. While that might be excusable if it somehow furthered the development of the film, it really does not.
It’s one thing to populate your movie with a couple of obnoxious characters that the audience can’t wait to see meet an untimely demise. But Noah Dorsey’s script doesn’t give the audience a single relatable character in the entire bunch. Making things even more frustrating, several minutes of the film’s already short runtime are devoted to a character who is present for dinner and then that parts company with the rest of the cast never to be heard from again. She could have just as easily not been in the film at all.
In addition to a series of badly written characters, Escape Room also features a bevy of awful performances. Really, really bad performances. Never, for even a brief moment, did I actually believe these people were friends. And when things got intense, all they did was yell at each other. But they couldn’t even do that convincingly.
One could argue that director Will Wernick (Alone) does an OK job of building tension but when the audience doesn’t care about anyone onscreen, it’s difficult to sustain that. Further complicating things, what precious little we do learn about the characters is rarely anything that augments their development.
Another in my long list of complaints is that the logic behind the puzzles in the escape room was often barely explained. How did these characters come up with these answers? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? In several cases, Tyler is making assumptions based on a series of conclusions that we haven’t even been let in on.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the ending is a big disappointment. The film sets itself up for a twist during the final sequence but the big reveal is free of any big revelation. I felt cheated long before the final frame but I actually started to feel like my intelligence had been insulted by the time the end credits rolled.
The idea of an escape room that pits its participants against killer consequences could have worked if someone had given the screenplay a major overhaul and injected it with a little excitement and scripted characters that didn’t come across as so detestable. But as it stands, this reads as a drastically inferior Saw knockoff.
The only real praise that I have to offer Escape Room is that the effects work isn’t terrible and it’s runtime is only 81-minutes.
Escape Room is on DVD, DigitalHD, and On Demand starting October 17th. However, there’s no need to waste your time or money on this one. It is a colossal failure in almost every way.
WICKED RATING: 2/10
Director(s): Will Wernick
Writer(s): Noah Dorsey
Stars: Evan Williams, Elisabeth Hower, and Annabelle Stephenson
Release: October 17, 2017 DVD
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate