“Escape Room” is an unexpected drama


Columbia Pictures

"Escape Room" features six contestants attempting to escape a series of rooms designed to kill them.

Molly Donaldson, Staff Writer

From the Harry Potter series to the Marvel comic book industry, Hollywood has mastered transforming society’s trends into blockbuster icons.

And, after becoming widely popularized during the last decade, escape rooms are the next pop culture phenomenon to receive an adaptation in the film industry. However, “Escape Room” puts a particularly ominous and radical twist on the normally tame idea of an escape room.

“Escape Room” has a promising exposition and introduces auspicious characters. However, it takes a turn for the worst as soon as the competition starts. Not only were the players subject to an immersive nightmare with the commencement of the escape room, but so was the audience.

The movie quickly turns into a tense and convoluted story that, despite its captivation, only disappoints the audience.

The rooms’ puzzles lacked intricacy and originality and became easier to solve as the film progressed. The contestants usually had to focus more on staying alive than actually solving a puzzle and often yelled at one another for their mistakes or attitude.

The characters’ disrespect for one another only made the film more difficult to swallow. The film creators had the opportunity to create an enticing film with complex enigmas and difficult riddles, but instead created an over-dramatic social competition similar to “The Hunger Games.”

To add to the competition, a large and sadistic factor of the movie was the fact that the rooms were designed to kill the participants. The survival component of the rooms did create a larger sense of tension and fear, however, the structure of the movie made it difficult for the audience to root for or connect to any characters.

“Escape Room” opened with the last surviving contestant in a room by himself, so as soon as the audience realizes that the characters are actually able to die in the escape room, they know who wins. This prevents any attachment to the other characters and makes the film that much more predictable.

Despite the expendable contestants, the character development is next-level, with each of them discovering their purpose in the escape room. The contestants realize that they were all sole survivors of freak accidents, such as a mine cave-in or plane crash. This was a rather brutal revelation and detail because those poor people had already been through enough. 

The most fascinating part of the movie, however, was the set design. The atmosphere and setting were well-crafted and featured five different escape rooms, ranging from a snowy forest to an upside down billiards bar. The contrasting and detailed rooms were impressive and innovative, considering that the standard escape rooms found today are comprised of chipped walls, laminated papers, and Ikea furniture.

“Escape Room” did have its redeeming qualities, as seen in the setting and character growth. However, the movie would have been more enjoyable if it had focused on more complicated and sophisticated puzzles, rather than using drama to kill the noble and unfortunate characters.