13th Nov2020

‘Escape: Puzzle of Fear’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Tommy Nash, Aubrey Reynolds, Omar Gooding, Naina Michaud, Nicholas Turturro, Sara Stretton, John Colton, Lili Bordán | Written by Lizze Gordon | Directed by J. Jones

The “Escape Room” sub-genre of horror seems to be picking up a bit of pace the last few years, coinciding with the popularity of real-life escape rooms. Personally, I haven’t been to one in real-life and the handful of movies I have seen based on them have ranged in quality, without any being outstanding. Is there a great movie with this basic story? Well, perhaps it has already been made because two of my favourite horror movies in Saw (2004) and Cube (1997) are basically escape room movies before that became a thing. It’s very hard to show any originality with these types of films but these two classics show you can, does Escape: Puzzle of Fear follow suit?

I guess the main thing this movie has going for it, is that it does try and do something a little bit. It adds some back-story that eventually becomes linked with the escape room, so that the escape room isn’t actually the main focus, even if it does take up over a third of the movie. A double date in an escape room involving two best friends soon brings up things from the past and a revenge plot for an almost forgotten victim. Once we find out the story from the past of our two main characters, it doesn’t take Einstein to work out exactly where this movie and its characters are heading. In fact, if I watched this with somebody and they didn’t predict the ending I’d be worried. It doesn’t always matter of course, but this plays out like it is some big twist when it is anything but. Even throwing in a few other ‘twists’ that are there ‘just because’ and not to add anything to the story.

The script as a whole is just far too predictable and the escape room part almost feels tacked on because of their current popularity. Performances are amateurish for the most part but that said, when the actors are given something interesting to work with, they do come across a lot better.

While Escape: Puzzle of Fear looks absolutely fine, it’s shot in a way that a hundred other low budget horror movies are shot and it does nothing to stand out from the pack. The musical score seems to have very little thought to it and the ‘puzzles’ in the escape room are almost non-existent. Surely these should be a big part of the movie but not this one. And if horror fans were hoping for gore and some cool death scenes, you’ll be highly disappointed with this too. There is not one entertaining death scene to see here.

I’m sure there’s some good escape room-based movies out there that I have yet to see and plenty more in the near future but Escape: Puzzle of Fear is not one of them and even if you are a fan of this sub-genre, you’ll struggle to enjoy this one.

* 1/5

Escape: Puzzle of Fear is available on DVD and Digital now.

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