January 4, 2019: Escape Room, Movie Review

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A Brief History

On January 4, 2019, the new thriller/horror movie, Escape Room, made its US debut.  We had the opportunity to screen the movie several weeks ago and would like to give you our impression.  Right off the bat we have to warn real horror fans that the movie is rated PG which means the gore is kept to a “safe” level.  The tension and terror the movie creates is still there, so we expect most people would like the film, as we did.  Capably directed by Adam Robitel (he of Insidious: The Last Key, 2018), the movie moves right along and the audience stays interested with no boring lapses.  With a running time of 100 minutes, Escape Room is about the normal length for a modern horror movie.

Digging Deeper

The cast includes one of our favorite young actresses, Deborah Ann Woll (whom you can remember from True Blood on HBO and Daredevil and The Punisher on Netflix as well as 2010’s film, Mother’s Day), and the other young actors do a good job as well.  Sure, you could pick apart the movie with little inconsistencies and the like, but with horror movies you have to suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in the plot so as to feel the anxiety and terror of the characters.  The scenes are well laid out, with lots of details, giving you plenty of guesses as to where the next clue is hidden (or trap) for the players to find in order to escape the room.  (Get it?)

Woll at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con.  Photograph by Nehrams2020.

Much like Cube (1997), The Game (1997)Saw III (2006), Unknown (2006), Hostel: Part III (2011), and The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Escape Room concerns people trying to escape a series of rooms/situations with deadly consequences for failure to do so.  While the basic idea is not new, Escape Room throws in a few new wrinkles to keep the movie fresh enough to avoid feeling like déjà vu.  Despite the actors doing a good job of acting and the direction being of good quality, the characters are mostly pretty unlikable, and markedly so for the most part.  It made us almost reluctant to feel empathy for the desperate people trapped in a game they did not really choose to play.

The ending is pretty good, with a couple of twists, which really makes the movie seem all the better.  Our test audience liked the movie and so did we, so we can safely recommend it for all of you horror fans.  Just try to avoid thinking too hard about whether or not the schemes are really possible or if they are somewhat far fetched and stretch the capabilities of even very wealthy people to pull off.  The composite movie review site, Rotten Tomatoes, only gives the film a 53% Fresh rating with an audience rating of 59%, although they do call the film “tense and thrilling.”  We also call the film “tense and thrilling” and we also call Escape Room pretty decent entertainment and a good way to spend an afternoon or evening at the movies.

Questions for Students (and others):  Are you a horror movie fan?  Have you seen any of the similar movies we named above?  Have you or your friends ever gone to an “escape room” yourself?

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Clare, Adam. Escape the Game: How to Make Puzzles and Escape Rooms.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

Escape the Game: How to make puzzle and escape rooms (Kindle Edition)

List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
buy now

Jackson, Curt. How to Create a Low Cost Escape Room: For Camps, Youth Groups and Community Centers. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

How to Create a Low Cost Escape Room: For Camps, Youth Groups and Community Centers (Paperback)

List Price: $19.95 USD
New From: $19.95 USD In Stock
Used from: $18.76 USD In Stock
buy now

Keehn, Sandra and Tony Duckett. School of Hard Locks Study Guide to Escape Rooms. BookBaby, 2017.

School of Hard Locks Study Guide to Escape Rooms (Kindle Edition)

List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
buy now

The featured image in this article is of a poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher (Sony Pictures) or the creator of the work depicted.  It is believed that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of posters

  • to provide critical commentary on the film, event, etc. in question or of the poster itself, not solely for illustration

qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United States.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.