Review: Don't bother entering 'Escape Room'

Cheap horror thriller leaves you longing for a good dinner theater experience

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

With the recent rise in popularity of escape rooms, it was only a matter of time before they were given the horror movie treatment, and that moment arrives with the cheap, not-so-creepy "Escape Room," which is about as clever as its title.  

Taylor Russell in "Escape Room."

Six strangers, lured by a $10,000 grand prize, arrive inside a mysterious office building. Since time is of the essence, only three of them are given backstories. No matter: soon the room they're all waiting inside turns into an oven and begins baking them. The game has already started, and they didn't even know it!

And so on. As the group — which includes a meek college student (Taylor Russell), a boastful financial analyst (Jay Ellis) and a grungy grocery store stock boy ("Love, Simon's" Logan Miller) — moves from room to room, the traps become more deadly and slowly thin the herd. Along the way, the script reveals secrets about each participant, and clues as to why they were drawn into the scenario in the first place. 

It's all fairly routine, with some "Saw"-level psychoanalysis and moralizing thrown in for good measure. The production features a few handsome set-pieces — the gang is drawn into a bar where everything is upside-down and Petula Clark's "Downtown" plays on repeat — but any logic the puzzle-solving had going for it early on is gone by the third act. 

The resolution, meanwhile, takes what was merely illogical and renders it absurd. It's like the filmmakers themselves were locked in an escape room with no way out. At least, in the end, it's true to the film's premise. "Escape Room" is trapped.


'Escape Room'


Rated PG-13 for terror/perilous action, violence, some suggestive material and language

Running time: 100 minutes