Like haunted attractions or amusement park ‘dark rides’, the escape room fad was tailor-made for horror movies. Not surprisingly then, a handful of recent horror movies have released in the last few years exploiting the trend. But what were the odds you’d have two similarly-themed horror movies with the exact same title? Of course, odds are pretty good that you’re familiar with the 2019 Escape Room. A surprise box-office success, Escape Room proved that January release dates didn’t have to be synonymous with bad movies. And then there’s the 2017 indie horror, Escape Room. If you’re confused, don’t worry – this Escape Room, now on Netflix, has almost nothing in common with its big-budget counterpart outside of its title and premise.
Six trendy, mid-20s LA hipsters gather at a fancy restaurant for friend Tylers birthday. But his birthday gift is something unexpected. Girlfriend Christen has bought expensive tickets to an exclusive, and very mysterious, escape room. After an unusually long limo ride, things take an even stranger turn. All six friends are drugged and later wake up trapped in separate rooms. Initially, it all seems to be part of an elaborate game. And then things take a horrifying turn. Now the friends realizes it’s not a game at all. With only one exit and one hour, they’re in for the fight of their lives.
Escape Room a Plodding, Dull ‘Saw’ Rip-Off
Never has an hour and 20 minutes felt so long. And pointless. Director Will Wernick – whose also guilty of sharing writing credits – kicks things off with a derivative, but at least promising prologue. It’s a death scene that has no connection to the main story and feels ripped from just about any Saw sequel. Still, it at least hints at some potentially gruesome fun. And then for the next 40 minutes or so, Escape Room treats you to pointless banter among its obnoxious characters. Yes, this thriller spends an inexplicable amount of time building to its only real selling point. You’ll wait and you’ll wait and you’ll wait some more. At some point, you may start to wonder if the movie’s intent is to torture you, not its characters.
…Escape Room drags its feet while offering nothing in the way of mood or tension.
Though there’s nothing wrong with plot and character development, Wernick’s movie lacks the substance to justify its plodding pace. Friday the 13th and Saw sequels knew what people were paying to see. And they got down to business. In contrast, Escape Room drags its feet while offering nothing in the way of mood or tension. Is there ultimately a payoff? In short, the answer is no. What you inevitably get is one sufficiently gross death scene that also happens to be extremely convoluted. It doesn’t just require suspending disbelief. No, it necessitates you accepting that two people could be so incredibly dumb. Unfortunately, the other death scenes are unimaginative and clumsily staged.
Escape Room Confuses ‘Twist’ Ending With Absolutely No Ending
If you make it to the end, Wernick has one final insult to add to injury. Throughout the movie, Wernick painstakingly maps out the dysfunctional relationships among its characters. You’ve got one couple that cant keep their hands off one another and a second couple (Natasha and Anderson) that share nothing but contempt. Our main couple, birthday boy Tyler and Christen, may be in trouble. As it turns out, Tyler had some indiscretions with Natasha, and Wernick spends much of the movie dropping hints that Christen knows. So is Christen really the mastermind behind the torture traps? After all, she’s the only one in the group held separately. And for some reason, naked in a cage.
If you make it to the end of Escape Room, Wernick has one final insult to add to injury.
No. Yes. Who knows? In Escape Room’s room big twist, Christen opts to save Tyler. But Tyler, believing Christen has orchestrated everything, chooses to save himself. His punishment – a small metal stake through his heart. And the true mastermind releases Christen from a van parked in an empty street. Just who is the movie’s villain? After over an hour of heavy-handed red herrings, Wernick simply ends the movie. There’s a distorted voice that hacks Christen’s payphone call to the police. He says something about Christen ‘being responsible’ and ‘knowing’ and we get some quick edits to strange scenes never connected to the main narrative. Not even Christen knows what’s going on. In the absence of a clear antagonist and motive, Escape Room is utterly pointless. You’ll be in disbelief when the credits abruptly roll.
Escape Room Insults Its Audiences With Insipid Storytelling
Prior to its ending, Escape Room is an unimaginative, boring horror movie. It takes far too long getting to the point and, once it delivers, Escape Room underwhelms. Neither scary nor gruesome, Escape Room is further undone by its awful characters and stilted performances. But Wernick goes one step further and, with his non-ending, elevates the movie from merely boring to plain insulting. Sticking an irrelevant conclusion onto a movie to avoid predictability isn’t clever – it’s just lazy. After investing time into the movie, Wernick makes everything you endured even more pointless. The only reason Escape Room isn’t list among the worst twist endings is likely because almost no one has actually seen it. Do yourself a favour, and keep it that way.