As film fans, there’s always a handful of films that we allow to pass us by. This usually isn’t at all indicative of their quality – sometimes, we’re just a little Late To The Party.

The reasons that people love horror movies are surprisingly compatible with the concept of escape rooms. After all, being trapped in an unfamiliar location and forced to solve puzzles to escape against the clock is bound to get the pulse racing. As such, a movie like Escape Room was an inevitability.

Though it might sound like a genius movie premise, making it work is more complicated. Starring Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, and Nik Dodani as six complete strangers invited to an interactive puzzle-solving experience, the film immediately has a potential issue. Woll is arguably the biggest name in the cast, and it’s clear from the off that she’s no more than a supporting character. Even so, Escape Room‘s interesting premise still proves enticing enough that a lack of star power isn’t insurmountable.

Predictably, once the six strangers get into the room, things begin to turn sinister. The puzzles seem far more extreme and potentially deadly than they’d anticipated, and details about their own pasts seem to have been incorporated into the game. This sees Escape Room begin to give off similar vibes to a Saw movie. Unfortunately, the comparison is less than favorable.

Ironically, There’s No More To Escape Room Than Meets The Eye

Taylor Russell, Jay Ellis, Logan Miller, and Tyler Labine in the upside-down bar scene in Escape Room (2019)

From the very first scene, Escape Room feels a little forced. Its script is filled with mindless platitudes and irritating clichés, making its characters seem particularly two-dimensional. It’s clear from the off that genuine originality is going to be in short order, but even that much can be forgiven if the story proves engaging enough.

Unfortunately, Escape Room‘s story just doesn’t live up to its puzzle-heavy promise. Any potential suspense is pre-emptively dispelled by the opening scene, which gives away part of the ending. The puzzles are relatively straightforward, and there’s no way for the audience to feel even remotely involved in solving them.

Escape Room‘s ending also feels a little tacked on. Rather than actively concluding the story, it ends with the promise of a sequel (which was delivered), making it feel like a transparent attempt to start a franchise rather than a good movie in its own right. In that regard (and in many others), Escape Room feels more like Hollywood fluff than a film with genuine substance. It’s a shame, given the potential of its premise, but it’s simply not very thrilling.

Rating: 30%

Summary: A horror with an alarmingly dull mystery at its core, Escape Room feels ill-conceived. It takes the interactive fun out of its premise and replaces it with uninteresting characters and countless clichés, all in blatant pursuit of a franchise that hardly warrants making.

Highlight: The gimmick of Escape Room‘s intricate set-pieces is fun, if short-lived.