“Find the clues or die.” The first horror film of 2019 makes serious demands. When ESCAPE ROOM opens on January 4, this psychological thriller will turn a weekend pastime into a life and death scenario.
In the real world, escape rooms challenge players with puzzles and riddles. Failure might mean embarrassment, but probably little else. ESCAPE ROOM goes further. Six strangers, all puzzle enthusiasts, are invited to be the first players in a new series of escape rooms. One winner can even take home a big cash prize.
Or so they think. The players quickly learn they aren’t caught in a typical escape room. Their lives are on the line, and only the most clever ones will survive.
The scenario for ESCAPE ROOM pulls elements from films we love. As seen in the trailer, there are the puzzle box invitations to the whole affair, which bring to mind Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER. There’s the shadowy corporate aspect, reminiscent of David Fincher’s THE GAME. And of course the deadly traps are right out of SAW.
The elements are familiar, but combination is something new. As the shadowy Minos corporation leads six players into increasingly difficult trials, we’ll learn more about each player, and what led them to this demanding event. Was this whole setup created specifically for these people? If so, what about them makes all the effort and expenditure worthwhile?
Who Will Survive?
Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, and Nik Dodani play the group of six strangers invited to the escape room. The only problem is that we assume that entire group will not leave the building alive.
Taylor Russell has been seen on Netflix’s LOST IN SPACE recently, while Logan Miller was in LOVE, SIMON. Deborah Ann Woll was a regular on DAREDEVIL and related series; Tyler Labine played Dale in the great horror comedy TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. Jay Ellis impressed us in all three seasons of HBO’s INSECURE, and Nik Dodani was a regular on the relaunched MURPHY BROWN.
Director Adam Robitel appears in the film as well, alongside Kenneth Fok and Yorick van Wageningen, each of whom has an undisclosed role. Even before making ESCAPE ROOM, Robitel has experience with strange stories. He wrote PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION, and directed 2018’s INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY.
The Pleasure of Puzzles
As wild as the ESCAPE ROOM premise may be, there’s a strange appeal to the concept of being puzzled to death. The whole point of an escape room, after all — the non-deadly kind — is to simulate the sort of timed trials this movie creates. Could we make it out alive? Are any of us clever enough to open the door on a room before we’re trapped or destroyed inside?
We won’t get to try our hand at the film’s puzzles directly, but ESCAPE ROOM might reveal whether or not the game was completely rigged — we hope more than one or two of the players gets out alive.
ESCAPE ROOM hits theaters January 4, 2019.