REVIEW: Avoid the ‘Escape Room’ sequel

This sequel may feature “champions,” but the film itself isn’t a winner.

The movie takes place not long after the first picture, with survivors of the past escape room game Ben (Logan Miller) and Zoey (Taylor Russell) seeking to take down the group responsible for the torture set-ups. Their mission brings them to New York City, where they end up being lured into another escape room set-up.

There, they meet with others who’ve made it through the escape rooms, Brianna (Indya Moore), Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel), Rachel (Holland Roden) and Theo (Carlito Olivero). Having made it out before, the players are more familiar with how the game works, but it doesn’t make it any easier with the rooms continuing to have deadly components.

Some movies get better as they go along, others maintain the same level of quality, and there are a few that simply get worse. The “Escape Room” sequel is the latter. What starts as an already below average horror wears down an audience’s patience with a bland, boring adventure through room after room.

To get things started, the movie has an entire recap segment about the first film, as if the lore of “Escape Room” is some complex, long running series. It helps an audience know who the protagonists, Ben and Zoey are, though, since they were part of an unmemorable group of characters in the first film.

As the new escape room starts, we get introduced to more generic characters for this go around. We have Theo, the tough one, Nathan, the quiet one, Brianna, the scared one, and Rachel, the lone wolf of the group.

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Courtesy Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures.

After meeting up they’re forced to play the escape room games, with someone usually dying as they solve each section. That itself isn’t inherently bad. Rather than a slasher killing off characters, having traps or a room that characters have to escape can and has worked in film before. However, they have to be well designed and there has to be a payoff.

The first “Escape Room” at least had some nicely designed room, which slightly salvaged that movie’s score. That’s not the case here, unfortunately.

There’s only one good room, which is set up as a bank with dangerous security lasers able to cut through anything. The room itself is in fact well designed, but there’s no payoff.

The movie already tripped itself by having a PG-13, so there’s no gore to be had, but even then, someone could have at least lost a limb. That’s something a PG-13 picture could have gotten away with.

The rest of the rooms are a let down. They’re either lame or undercut by the PG-13 rating. An example of the latter is a room including an acid rain system in a movie with no gore.

When it comes to the former, there’s a room that’s set up like a beach with sand, and the sand starts sinking, so there’s a simple quicksand death that we’ve all seen before. The set pieces are just too weak.

Now if you think this review is spoiling too much, then you’re right, dear reader. There are spoilers in this, because you shouldn’t give your money to this film.

As the movie continues dragging its audience through a suspenseless journey, it becomes more apparent that it’s a total waste of time. If that’s not bad enough, though, the movie tacks on an ending that feels straight up disrespectful to the audience.

After a meaningless twist involving something from the first movie that won’t mean much to audiences since these characters aren’t really lovable, the film begins to wrap up. Except, as it approaches its end, it tries to set up a sequel in the most non-clever way possible.

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It’s a completely laughable conclusion and honestly it felt insulting to viewers who spent their hard earned money at the theater.

I’m not against all sequel teasers as a principal, either. It can absolutely work, but the preceding feature itself has to be good and have some genuine payoff before a filmmaker even has the right to say “hey, we’re going to make another one of these in two years, so come back and give us more money.”

The “Saw” movies were known to set up sequels, but they at least delivered on the gore. “A Quiet Place,” set up a sequel, but it delivered with solid suspense.

In this movie, there is no payoff. It’s not a good experience. The film is a dull, tedious slog with no blood or gore because the makers wanted more money through a PG-13 rating, and very few thrills, despite recycling a race-against-the-clock situation over and over.

One can’t even enjoy it as a cheesy horror because the movie takes itself so damn serious, too. This hour and a half product is simply unsatisfying.

Then, after sitting through the movie, the filmmakers have the audacity to tell its audience, “yeah, we got money off you this time and we’re going to try it again in a few years” with an ending that is monumentally absurd.

This movie was riding around a 1 rating for a while, but when the unsubtle, ridiculous sequel bait ending was thrown out to the audience, it sunk the score. This one gets a 0.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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