19th Feb2019

‘Escape Room’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, Nik Dodani, Adam Robitel, Kenneth Fok, Yorick van Wageningen | Written by Bragi F. Schut, Maria Melnik | Directed by Adam Robitel

escape-room-poster

Adam Robitel’s 2019 film Escape Room is Sony’s attempt at crafting a cheap money making franchise in small budgets and big returns in the same vein as Lionsgate’s enormously successful but varying degree of quality Saw series. Running at just under one hundred minutes, ninety of which are engrossingly tense and aggressively atmospheric with a delightful b-movie quality that no doubt entertains but sadly falls off the wayside with an irksome sequel bait set up that jumps the shark to a stilted degree.

Not to discredit Escape Room for all it proposes in entertainment value but it is derived unconditionally from the bowels of James Wan’s Saw of 2004. Not necessarily the most damning of comparisons but in every subtle detailed twist or character arc ultimately falls flat with the audience either accustomed to the narrative or the conventional developments that occur. If you were to compare this side by side to any of the Saw sequels, Escape Room would be on the latter side of quality, a proposed sequel of the fourth or fifth attempt on originality. The story by Bragi F. Schut initially is an inviting and engaging mystery, undoubtedly grasping the audience with immediate and instant effect. However, it is the screenplay from Maria Melnik and Bragi F. Schut that on the surface suffices as depth and layered characters but sadly falls flat in creating an inciteful depiction of terror and tension. Leaving much to be desired in terms of impactful reveals.

The edit from Steve Mirkovich utilised through the production is rather superbly crafted in keeping the narrative sharp and engaging at all times. Cutting away from the initial story with a seamless edit to revealing sub-plots and therefore backstory, never becoming a hindrance to the overall experience  – dipping in and out of the palpable atmosphere or damning to the overall narrative unfolding. It allows the film to breathe and pause in a self-reflective manner, to reinforce the terror on screen, as well as subtle, or in some cases overly obvious implications of foreshadowing and clues that feel far too on the nose constricting the involvement of the audience working the feature out themselves.

The performances are well crafted and convincingly conveyed with strong individualism with a unique plight and animalistic prowess of survival. Taylor Russell and Logan Miller as Zoey Davis and Ben Miller, respectively. Leading the charge with two performances that excel in a form of engaging angst and deeply convincing fear that wraps the screen in deliberating horror and terror. Jay Ellis impresses as headstrong Jason Walker. Ellis puts forward an enigmatic albeit frantic character who throws a spanner into the works of a film that questions merits of mortality. Prominently comedic character actor Tyler Labine also indents with a splendid showcase of range playing a more straight-laced character with a solemn edge. Deborah Ann Woll, coming off Daredevil and The Punisher, showcases some outstanding depth on a greatly physical and physiologically scarred role of which totally seizes the screen with excellent screen presence.

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