Well; make that back to back January stinkers for rising Horror Director Adam Robitel. His last outing with Insidious: The Last Key fell on its face critically as one of the worse of the franchise. Unfortunately, when it comes to the horror genre making more than 16 x your budget back is an instant greenlight to at least 2 more films.
Up next; “Escape Room.” An intriguing concept to be honest. Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control and must use their wits to find the clues or die. - Escape Room, Sony.
What we got however was 6 stereotypical surface level B movie characters featuring the Shy Genius, Medium-hot War Vet with PTSD, a douchie Black Ad Exec, an overeager gamer, chubby mid westerner with charm and a greasy stoner trying to over talk at one another to clumsily win $10,000.
I was hoping this film would be a fresh entry to the genre ala “Saw.” A head of its time slasher with a flare for gore and innovative ways to torture and maim. I know it sounds a bit dark but that’s what we go to these movies for. We want to have story tellers appeal to our more sinister sensibilities sometimes. What “Saw” did well was not only be smart but being so clever and stringing together every characters motivations matched by their behaviors you were ensnared by what was going to happen next. Then you were left with one of the greatest closing scenes in horror movie history. The ultimate reveal of who is Jigsaw and why he does what he does and to who.
That’s exactly where “Escape room fails.
As an actor and a fan of the genre I can look past certain things. Understandably to turn the most profit we may not be able to afford A-List movie stars, nor do most movie stars want to be subjected to all that comes with starring in a horror movie. But casting also failed this project from the jump; aside from a ridiculous 3rd act. At least “Saw,” had the decency to pull in heavyweight names you would recognize. I’m not saying there’s not a couple of familiar faces in “Escape Room” but this movie has on its poster a relative no name, yet Debra Ann Woll from Netflix’s recently canceled “Daredevil” series is first billed. So, there’s that disconnect.
I’m wondering how her story resolves itself and how this film will play out by some of the classic horror movie rules were all familiar. And then it doesn’t. the rooting interest I have in this movie literally falls down an elevator shaft!
The rest of the cast I’m sure are fine performers but in this movie there very subpar performances highlight how much Escape Room fails to deliver on its promise. Were supposed to care about these characters. Were supposed to buy in to their backstory and find a person to root for and I was robbed of that and have nothing going for me with the rest of these unimpressionable bodies taking up time and space waiting to die.
In “Saw” we had a clear villain who we were in search of the entire film. In this movie our villain is a mystery, and more so an entity we hope to be revealed at the very end and can you imagine how unsatisfied you become to find out who is behind your immediate peril is not only a henchman; but then we have on a TV screen a mustache twirling bored fat cat on the other end wagering with other rich low lives who will live in a contest of sole-survivors.
If you were going to set me up to take that gut punch at least give me a horror movie that’s rated R. That way I can revel in the blood, and guts, and for those who are into that sort of thing; boobs, required to feel somewhat satisfied in the $11 bucks I spent to get there.
Escape Room is incomplete in many ways and does more damage in its 3rd act trying to set up a soon to be failed franchise and less of trying to make a statement as a standalone movie that excels.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 6/10
Director: Adam Robitel
Writers: Bragi Schut, Maria Melnik
Starring: Deborah Ann Woll, Taylor Russell, Jay Ellis
Run Time: 99 mins