Escape Room (PG13)
Starring Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll
Directed by Adam Robitel
Five strangers, each with a particular neurosis, are lured into playing the eponymous puzzle game designed to deal with their demons. Unbeknownst to the participants — amongst them, Lost in Space’s Taylor Russell’s shy college student and Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll’s PTSD-stricken soldier — the game is rigged to slay.
To escape the maze, they have to solve the brain-teasers in the various chambers (including a bland waiting room that transforms into a giant oven, and a creepy upside-down billiard room). But first, they must resist the temptation to turn on one another (if you have a choice, never ever play with a broker!).
Hold on, doesn’t this sound a lot like Saw. Yes, it does, but without the gruesome torture porn and serial killer Jigsaw’s moralising sermons — OMG! Escape Room is the Once Upon a Deadpool of Saw!
(Consider Escape Room’s family tree: director Adam Robitel’s previous gig was Insidious: The Last Key, and that horror series was created by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the same guys behind Saw.)
Though the shock-and-squirm factor is toned down considerably, the movie remains an engaging distraction as the characters (all decent people except that abovementioned finance exec) wander through a satisfyingly intriguing set of mysteries into an ending that promises more sequels to follow. (***)
Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment