Try to imagine taking the general concept of 'Saw', and giving it a PG-13 rating. That's essentially what we get here with 'Escape Room'. One might think that the lack of blood and/or gore would take away from the whole deal, but truth be told, the film actually still pulls off a great deal of suspense. It's far more of a psychological thriller than any sort of horror movie.
We get introduced to six main players, all of whom are randomly gifted a puzzle box. A physics student named Zoey (Taylor Russell), a stockboy named Ben (Logan Miller), a trader named Jason (Jay Ellis), a war vet named Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), a former miner named Mike (Tyler Labine) and an escape room geek named Danny (Nik Dodani). Once the puzzle boxes are solved, a clue invites them to the Minos Escape Room Facility, with $10,000 up for grabs upon successful completion of the puzzles.
Once the group meets up, the film pretty much takes off, and does a pretty damn good job with playing on psychological fears that could potentially lead to death. While the main fears at play here are obvious, you can also spot things like claustrophobia, or even the fear of losing one's mind. The overall premise is actually quite enjoyable, and does manage to keep you on edge for the most part.
All that said, the unfortunate downside to this is that as far as likable characters go, there are so few. Between the six, I only really enjoyed Zoey and Mike, while Amanda and Danny had their moments, and Jason and Ben just got downright irritating at points. However, we can chalk that up to a nitpick on my part, seeing as when all said and done, I suppose that's providing contrast. However, there is one part of this otherwise decent movie that I cannot overlook, and that's the ending.
Without spoiling too much, the ending turns the film on its head from a rather decent psychological thriller to a straight up Saturday morning cartoon. So as I sat in the audience, ready to leave, and pretty well satisfied with the results of the film, it asked me to stay put, in an attempt to set itself up for a sequel. Again, no spoilers, but as a slight hint, IMDb includes "sci-fi" as one of the genres it covers. It's downright silly.
There's still plenty to like about the film, though. The atmosphere, the overall tension, the designs of most of the rooms, it really does show the flexing of creative muscle. While at the end of the year, I feel that this will pretty much be forgotten about, it can still be a fun time for anyone interested. Overall, it's not entirely disappointing... that ending though? I'm curious to see if it will lead to anything in the near future - but my money's on "probably not".