Movie Review: ‘Escape Room’ (2017 – But Another One!)

We were pretty surprised to find out that there was an Escape Room movie released in 2017 that predates the moderately successful and fun franchise debuting in 2019. Imagine our surprise, while researching that movie, we found ANOTHER movie called Escape Room also released in 2017! Let’s go!

Director: Peter Dukes

Cast: Skeet Ulrich, Sean Young, Christine Donlon, Randy Wayne, Matt McVay, Ashley Gallegos

Plot: A group of friends, including a horror critic, are invited to participate in an Escape Room game. When a demonic evil enters play, the situation becomes desperate.

Review: The only reason we realised this was a different movie was the inclusion of recognisable name actors – something the previous review did not have. Skeet Ulrich plays the owner of the Escape Room experience, and is desperate for a good review to bring in customers. Sean Young only appears in a cameo appearance selling magical items, including the inciting…object? So they’ve got that going for them.

At the beginning of this little adventure we did not have high hopes. The acting was bad, even from the name actors, the sets looked cheap and the entire movie was washed out with a piss-yellow, and the main character stealing the evil box from the old lady wasn’t a positive introduction. Actually, there’s a prologue to this where some guys bury the evil box in the desert to stop it from spreading evil, using a hilariously modern looking spade complete with a cloth wrapped around the plastic handle.

So we weren’t off to a great start, and the references to better movies like Gremlins and Ready or Not weren’t helping its case. It makes me want to watch Gremlins and Ready or Not. It also does that weird thing in movies where they talk about video games like your Granny, with a boyfriend protesting that he can’t pay attention to his girlfriend because he’s on ‘level 6’.

Eventually all the awful dialogue finds its way into the Escape Room of the title and…it’s pretty bare bones. The previous review was pretty generic, but this one is a concrete box with some spartan furnishings. It does actually better represent most real Escape Rooms we’ve been in. The characters in this one at least act like they’re real people doing a game, and look for keys to try and solves the puzzles.

The unique selling point of this one is a masked figure chained in the corner of the room who will move closer and closer to them as their time runs out. Fun gimmick, but this faceless figure gets possessed by the evil box used as set dressing. This being our fourth Escape Room horror movie, it is nice to have a different threat other than ‘evil games master’. It’s then up to the players to actually solve this challenging escape room before the demonic possessed maniac gets enough reach to murder them. The reveal of this to the characters is a pretty surprising moment, and the tension gets paced out pretty well. It’s also fun to try and solve the puzzles along with the characters rather than watch them ‘guess’ the answers.

This isn’t a good movie by any definition, but given that appears to be the lowest budget in this very specific sub-genre of thrillers they have done very well. There’s little in the way of sets, but that creates some authenticity and they use the ‘horror themed Escape Room’ setting to hide much of it in shadows and darkness. It’s cheaper than Escape Room (2017 – the other one), but they’ve made better use of their resources. They definitely get points for effort.

Oh, warning for light sensitive viewers. This is an absolutely shocker for flashing lights.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN