The premise for a modern-day horror program, marketed toward a generation of Millennials (now referred to as iGen) who prefer experience the now-popular Escape Rooms, serves as a variation-on-a-theme for those who are familiar with the Saw franchise. Instead of a psychopath kidnapping victims and subjecting them to a locked room filled with torture devices, designed to subject the victims with bloody retribution, a group of adventurous “victims” enter the premises to participate in the ultimate of all Escape Rooms… and not everyone makes it out alive.
These were not innocent bystanders; our six victims were selectively chosen and lured to participate so, yeah, this is basically the same premise as Saw with the life-threatening deadlines in each Escape Room as the meat and potatoes for those seeking bloody torture scenes. The first two rooms were fair enough, and simple enough, to ensure every member of the team could solve the riddles, crack the codes, and if they choose to work as a team, succeed in freedom. But as the movie progresses, the cast of characters find differences amongst each other and stop working as a team. The cast represents the standard formula for horror films. There is the girl and guy you root for, the woman you have to sympathize, and the jock with a negative attitude who you are just rooting to face a grizzly demise.
The first half of the movie is elaborate and intriguing, though the set-up and introduction to the essential characters was a tad slow. About half way through the movie the audience realizes this is just a reboot of the Saw franchise, applying the same cookie-cutter format that we have come to love. The final few minutes sets up the potential sequel, with more intrigue as to the man behind the curtain. There are a lot of bad edits that suggests there was no budget for post-production reshoots. There is more than usual voice-overs that were obviously dubbed after principal production was completed, to avoid re-shooting scenes or adding scenes to ensure smooth cuts. But this is a minor flaw in a film that was entertaining.
The only real name in the cast of unknowns is Deborah Ann Woll, the co-star of True Blood and Daredevil, who is always a treat on the eyes and her role of a scared veteran seeking redemption is worthy of entry — tho I hope she was paid sufficiently for this obviously low-budget horror flick. The standout, however, was Taylor Russell who plays the role of Zoey in this movie. She is the standout and perfect choice for the lead, an extremely-shy Einstein who transforms into a badass on a mission. If Sony Pictures loses money on this film, regardless of the margins, the only person who stands to gain anything is Russell.
If you are going to see this movie, having not received your quota of bloodshed from the Saw franchise, you will not be disappointed. But with what appears to be a low-budget entry to ensure profits from day one, the potential for a new franchise beyond this entry remains a puzzle in itself.
See also: TRAILER: ESCAPE ROOM – Official Trailer