In Theaters: Escape Room

Escape Room (2019)
Directed By: Adam Robitel
Written By: Bragi F. Schut, Maria Melnik

This is the first new release of 2019 I have seen. That means, at this moment, it is simultaneously the best movie of the year and the worst. It has zero chance of finishing 2019 as the best but a pretty good shot at the title of worst. Admittedly the first Friday in January isn’t usually set aside for quality films but I thought this had a chance to at least be a fun time in the theater. The premise is great, everything after that is a disaster.

The idea behind Escape Room is simple. Six people go to an escape room in order to win $10,000 only to learn that the challenges they are facing in the rooms are real life or death situations. It’s a great idea for a movie and one that should have been a lot of fun. Instead the end result is a confusing mess. Early in the film they find a clue that instructs them to follow all posted rules, to which a character replies “There are no posted rules.” That sums up Escape Room perfectly. There are no rules and nothing makes any sense. The writers tried to explain things but the more explanations they pile on the less sense the whole thing makes.

The performances range from good to uneven. I don’t think anyone is bad in their role. None of the characters are really given more than one or two characteristics and that is all that defines them. We have the introverted smart girl, the regular guy truck driver, the nerdy video game fan, the loser, the rich stockbroker and the tough lady. That’s it. That’s pretty much all we know about them. There is an attempt to give each of them some back story in order to explain why they were chosen for the escape room but it just comes across as nonsense.

If his previous film, The Taking of Debra Logan, is any indication Adam Robitel is a solid director. There are a couple of shots that look good in this movie. Mostly at the beginning and end when they are showcasing the city of Chicago. The rest of the film looks totally pedestrian with bad CG work.

Escape Room had the potential to be a fun time at the movies but it couldn’t get out of it’s own way. The gaping holes in logic and the pathetic attempts to cover them up ruined this film from the beginning. This one doesn’t have enough going for it to reach even the lowest of expectations.

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