My rating: 6/10
I need to start off by saying that I love Tyler Labine hardcore, and though I watched this because it was a horror movie and horror is my jam, 90% of the real reason I watched it was because Tyler Labine’s in it. This may make you question the credibility of my opinion, but I’m Canadian and he’s Canadian, so you’re not allowed to judge me for that.
Okay, moving on.
Escape Room is exactly what the name implies. If you’ve ever watched Cube, or Saw, or any other puzzle horror movie, you pretty much already know the gist of the premise, and that’s fine. These movies are not meant to be plot-heavy, they’re meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, entertain you, piss you off, and make you yell at the characters. On all those fronts, this movie delivers.
Right from the start, we’re plunged into action. It opens with a man plummeting into a room. The walls close in and he frantically tries to solve the puzzle before he can be crushed to death. It’s well done. I feel the stakes right off the bat, and that feeling of panic is only allayed for a few minutes as the main characters — the strangers who will be thrown to the proverbial wolves in this puzzle horror — are introduced.
We get to know a little about Zoey, our protagonist, Ben, and Jason. Less about Mike (TYLER!) Danny, and Amanda, but that’s okay, because movies like this weave their stories through the action, and this movie does that in spades. Everything is nicely connected, as it should be, and their tragic backstories fuel their dynamics so well.
That being said, these characters were not immune to horror-movie-itis. There were absolutely moments when they said shit that didn’t make sense, or made drama or threw out ridiculous conspiracy theories or suspicions about each other that were so out of left field, it pulled me out of the experience.
Clearly not a perfect script. But there was a lot to love about it. The pace, the way they screamed at each other over clues. Their panic was so fucking real. Their response to the environments were mostly relatable, though there were some issues, like them being close to hypothermia at one point and the moment they’re safe and in a presumably heated room, no one’s even almost shivery or shaky?
Okay, all that’s forgivable because I still cared. It still sucked me in. And the puzzles, the action, and the character dynamics were so damn entertaining.
I will not give away anything about the ending. Except that I hated it. I promise this hatred is not just because it wasn’t what I wanted or because a character died that I was rooting for (sadface), but because I found it silly and weird, and it completely dispelled all the tension. Like tacking a 4/10 ending on a 7/10 movie. If they had ended Escape Room 10 mins earlier, this could have easily been one of my faves of the last 5 years.
Should you watch it? If you liked the Cube movies, yes. Watch the hell out of this thing. It’s worth it. If you don’t like characters being dicks to each other in high-stress situations, this may not be the movie for you.
Other movie reviews by Sam Clover:
Sam Clover is a published author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.