Escape Room is pretty entertaining… until the master plan comes into focus

Six strangers must use their wits to survive in this psychological thriller set within the confines of elaborate killer escape rooms. Critic Tony Stamp found it all pretty entertaining… until the ludicrous premise reveals itself.

Over the last ten years or so, escape rooms have crept into the public consciousness, with tens of thousands of them popping up around the globe. Las Vegas plays host to one that’s modelled on the Saw franchise, and I can’t help but wonder if the makers of Escape Room have paid it a visit.

Sure, the traps here are much more PG-13-friendly than that gore-flecked series, but there’s a similarly claustrophobic feel to proceedings. Things get pretty rough, actually, with onscreen throttling, shooting & drowning among other nastiness. But by and large, the appeal is much the same as a real world escape room—solve some clues, open some locks, get out of there. The key difference here is our motley cast of characters is trying to avoid getting burned alive, and so on.

This is all pretty entertaining, but the glue holding things together in the early stretch is a series of ominous clues that the players are hiding some deep dark secrets, and just maybe there’s some grand plan at work. The film’s commitment to its ludicrous premise is admirable, but pretty silly in execution.

The real stars here are the set-pieces, and, as Flicks’ Liam Maguren pointed out to me after we saw it, the set design. There’s a huge room-oven, an ice cavern, an upside-down bar and more, and they’re all presented with style. Director Adam Robitel (he made one of the Insidious-es), knows how to crank up the tension, providing sufficient thrills along the way.

But things run out of steam soon after the film’s master plan comes into focus, and once we’ve sat through several redundant endings, it’s hard to remember much about Escape Room. Apart from those great sets.