Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Escape Room (2019)

Most stories operate on the premise that you’re supposed to care about the characters.  At the very least, you should have some connection with the protagonist.  I don’t think that anyone involved with Escape Room got that memo.  Six people are trapped in a series of rooms, each one a puzzle.  Solve one puzzle and they find themselves in the next room.

Each person is different.  Zoey is a student that‘s rather shy.  Ben is a stock boy who can’t seem to catch a break.  Danny is a huge escape-room fan boy.  Jason is a trader.  Amanda is a war veteran.  Mike used to be a miner.  Each one was given a box with an invitation to the escape room.   Whoever survives will be given $10,000.

At first, the contestants assume that they won’t actually be killed.  Who needs that kind of a lawsuit, much less six of them?  Danny meets his demise in the second room.  I reveal this for two reasons.  First, it’s that kind of movie.  This isn’t some big team-building exercise where everyone remains friends for years afterwards.  People are going to die.  The second reason is that Danny’s death didn’t have the emotional impact that I’d expect.

Part of this is because I knew it was coming.  (Most of the movie operates as a flashback.)  Another part is that Danny isn’t really set up as a character I cared much about.  He’s that annoying, super hyper guy that’s enjoying it way too much.  It’s not that I wanted to see him go.  It’s more that it was a horrible way to go.

This also applies to most of the subsequent deaths.  Anything I felt was about not wanting to be in that situation more than not wanting to see the person die.  (You feel bad for the people, but not really.)  There’s no real tension.  There’s just the expectation that at least one person will make it to the next room.  There’s not even the longing for the reveal.  We get that it’s kind of a sick person who would do this.  All we have to do is wait until the end to get the all-revealing monologue.

I definitely think the movie could have been done better.  Only Ben and Zoey have any real growth during the movie.  None of the characters play well off of each other except that they were probably meant to bicker.  We don’t even get that much back story except to explain what they all have in common.

I would have thought that the worst thing you could call a movie was uninspired, but I was wrong.  This movie is derivative of other movies without learning anything from them.  They say that all stories borrow from other stories, but you have to improve on it.  Give it a new context that makes it more enjoyable.

This didn’t do that.  Some of the scenes were entertaining, but I didn’t walk out of the theater really liking it.  I can’t even recommend waiting for it on DVD.  If this movie came on television, you’d probably do better changing the channel.

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