2017, Movies

Escape Room (2017, Will Wernick)

This is a stupid horror movie that is reasonably enjoyable for most of its run but which is utterly ruined by the ridiculous characterizations and its nonsensical ending.


By the way, this is not to be confused with the 2019 Escape Room.

We watched this movie with full on knowledge that it would be silly. And it definitely lived up to our expectations in terms of silliness. Moreover, aside form a bizarre opening sequence, it felt like it had a relatively high budget – I say relatively – for a film set almost entirely in a couple of rooms. The actors, though hardly excellent, all are better than you often get in these low budget horror movies. And, lastly, it actually made me want to go to an escape room, something I have never done. So those are the positives. (I imagine most escape rooms are not this fun.)

But everything else is not good: the opening has an irrelevant intro scene followed by shots of driving through LA (seriously) while we listen to the villain and some guy talk. Seriously. The “secret” relationship between two of the characters is so fucking telegraphed its hard to put into words. And once things start going badly, two of the leads become just horrible people. You want them to die. I guess maybe that’s the point, given what happens later, but it is pretty hard to comprehend. There’s no real character development (obviously) so it’s hard to really understand why the lead in particular just turns into a psychopath.

But the worst thing is the ending.

Traditionally horror movies try to have some kind of loose moral. For example, Jason Voorhees (and his mom, SPOILER ALERT) kills teens because they were having premarital sex and doing drugs instead of watching him, so he drowned. It’s true of most horror movies.

This guy well he, um, thinks people who want to visit escape rooms are terrible and should be killed. That is his motivation. Wouldn’t it be better if he just didn’t say his motivation at all? I mean, who is going to feel like this makes any sense?

But that’s not all! While the villain is explaining one of the stupidest motivations in the history of horror films, he is also apparently watching a swingers party on other monitors. There is no explanation as to what is happening on these monitors and it is not apparently connected to the main plot, nor to the opening scene, nor to the dialogue in the opening credits. It’s just there. Is it supposed to be creepy? Is there some kind of social comment here about the voyeurism being a slippery slope to something worse? Who knows?

And, with that, the movie just ends. The moral seems to be that the woman who caused all this death is allowed to survive knowing she caused everyone else’s death – even though we didn’t see one of them die – because she had the temerity to want to treat her (cheating) boyfriend on his birthday.


PS Is this not the best scam ever? You get paid thousands of dollars and you get to kill people? I mean, who wouldn’t want to do this in real life.

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