Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Escape Room

Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control and must use their wits to survive.

7 of 11 viewers "Liked" "Escape Room" (2019, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

The Impostor - "January horror releases have become a joke between myself and The Overlook creatures over the past few years, but this year the bad start to the year streak is finally broken! Escape Room is a very entertaining way to start the new year. The acting, story, and visuals were great and each room became more intense and twisted than the last. I damn near had an anxiety attack in some scenes. The film is a mix of The Belko Experiment and Saw films with an escape room setting that works very well. Overall, a great theater experience; I was entertained from beginning to the end. I actually found myself trying to think of how to escape the rooms with the characters. Definite day one Blu-ray purchase." - 4.5 Stars

Eddie the Gamer Ghoul - "Dis was a scenerio where Saw meets Final Destination. Truth be told, da movie was fun but horrible. Didn't like it but enjoyed watch'n with others. None of da characters felt personal and better yet felt like they came outta the elevator from Devil." - 2 Stars

Randy the Reverberator - "Escape Room is a film I knew absolutely nothing about, and if it wasn't for the Overlook creatures taking a field trip on a night before a convenient day off, I probably would have never seen it. The title is self explanatory, and knowing that it was a horror film I had an idea as to where this thing would lead. There aren't many surprises and it's not incredibly original. However, the production design and the rooms were a lot of fun, especially the Eight Ball room. Escape Room also conveniently made its way into my life when I've had a fascination with jig-saw puzzles. Also, the second guitarist for my band Opinions has a brother who owns and operates escape rooms in the Santa Clarita Valley called Arcane Escape Rooms. Is it okay to shamelessly self promote as long as you promote someone else's business at the same time? In the film's final moments I got some heavy Final Destination vibes, and I was honestly kind of excited for a sequel. Then the very last scene happens and it ruined that excitement. I wish the film ended before that, letting us imagine what might happen in the sequel (if there is one) rather than blatantly teasing it." - 2.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "If a horror movie set in an escape room doesn't get your eyes rolling, just wait till you see the lamest puzzle box in horror film history, immediately followed by some of the best suspense, elaborate but not overbearing visual puzzles, and the most effectively disorientating scene in cinema history. Escape Room reminds me of Hitchcock and how he was thought of as a lite entertainer until speaking to Truffaut and I can't help but wonder if Escape Room were a little less fun would it be more artistically worthwhile or respected? Probably not, but you should still see catch this one in the theatre!" - 4 Stars

Huntress - "It was hard not to think of Saw while watching the trailer for Escape Room, but the film itself turned out to be more than just 90 minutes of cheap "homage". It was a string of single setting horror movies (which I love), each filled will some of the most stressful and engaging puzzles I've ever seen. Each room had its own unique character, and each of the characters trapped within had a well defined archetype. And even though I didn't love all of them, I gasped a lot watching them get put through hell. Escape Room was more exciting than the recent Saw movies, and it didn't feel totally hopeless either, which made it an exciting watch, especially for someone who's never done an escape room." - 3.5 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "Escape Room is a fun ride that delivers an exciting see once in theatres experience. (This is a good thing). The chemistry of the cast and the creativity of the set pieces keep you engaged and for the most part on your toes, likability and complementary skills and quirks of the main players keep what could get stale pretty fresh.  This one is disturbing enough to keep the tension without being excessively gore-splattered, so a good invite for your less horror prone friends. I went kind of soft on the “da dum DAAAA!” epilogue but everything leading up to it was crafted with love." - 4 Stars

Math Mage *Spoilers* - "The best Saw movie yet! In all seriousness, the film has more in common with Cube (including a girl genius and a black guy as a potential liability). Evil rich people lock randos* in a deadly escape room for the purposes of gambling. Well executed with characters that are actually sympathetic, though many plot elements lean heavily on coincidence and leaps of logic. Though it is refreshing to see odd leaps of logic sometimes succeed (body heat to melt ice was the only way) and sometimes fail (your heart rate needs to be low not high, idiot!) The playtesting scene is perhaps the best in the film, though I feel the third room should have been eliminated in the testing phase." - 3.5 Stars
*A weak link in the film is the impossible level of insight into our victims that villains have. How could anyone know what particular song was being sung during a car crash.

Slayer Swift - "Escape Room was a really fun movie to watch with the Overlook Theatre crowd. The story was predictable and cheesy, but the progression of the different rooms and puzzles was pretty creative and visually interesting. Fans of gore will be disappointed, although there is a scene in which someone grabs a bone fragment from their own thigh to use as a weapon (😱). Most of the deaths were pretty "vanilla." There's never really a satisfying explanation as to why exactly the evil MINOS corporation is doing all of this, and the epilogue is straight-up painful...I'm just going to pretend it never happened. Overall, I would give this film 3.5 stars for the creativity and visual appeal of the sets, solid B-list actors (I'm looking at you, Deborah Ann Woll and Jay Ellis), and the fact that it made for a fun and interactive watch in a crowded theater." - 3.5 Stars

Trash - "My beloved month of January, the dumpster studios use to rid themselves of their least attractive projects, delivers a much more enjoyable movie than anyone expected with Escape Room! Do critics like it? Absolutely not! But I sure as hell did. Great set design, an enjoyable cast, and just enough mystery to keep me guessing. The most fun part is trying to figure out what other movie it's gonna be -- I? The Game? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? And even though it totally falls apart in the last 20 minutes, be it studio meddling or just a jumbled production, I had a great time. And I'd play that escape room. And I'd win." - 3 Stars

Wandering Panda - "Escape Room is a FUN movie!! Not great, but fun. Escape Room got my attention months ago when its trailer played and immediately gave me Saw vibes and I liked that! This film works for me. And I feel it delivers on its name. The rooms were the real stars of the film. The actors are alright. Bearable enough to carry the film but not very memorable. Escape Room pulls from a few films like Final Destination for defining death, Saw for the themed rooms and most recently, Unfriended: Dark Web where the game is bigger than it seems." - 3.5 Stars

Clark Little - "The intricate set designs can’t outweigh a simplistic script that offers uninteresting characters being killed in uninteresting ways. The puzzles grew tiresome. So tiresome that I closed my eyes and escaped the room I was in and fell asleep." - 2 Stars


The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The past 4 years of screenings, I've kept fairly detailed notes on what we saw, where we saw it, and who was there. In preparation for Escape Room, I looked back to the first theatrical field trip of the past 4 years. The list wasn't very motivating...

The Woman in Black 2 (2015)
The Forest (2016)
The Bye Bye Man (2017)
Insidious 4: The Last Key (2018)

I personally thought The Woman in Black 2 was the worst as it was awfully boring (never even managed to wrangle a review) followed by Insidious 4, The Forest, and finally The Bye Bye Man. Time has changed things for me a bit as I have fond memories or talking about The Bye Bye Man on The Overlook Hour Podcast and The Forest invokes a rage that harnesses a lot of energy (and is kinda exhilarating) whereas Insidious 4 falls into an often visually pleasing but mostly forgettable flick. Strangely enough, the director of Insidious 4 also directed Escape Room (and The Taking of Deborah Logan but that's another story).

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theatre for a screening on 1/3/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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