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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Escape Room 2019 * * * Stars

Escape RoomDirector: Adam Robitel
Year: 2019
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Taylor Russell, Deborah Ann Woll, Logan Miller

Six strangers are promised $10,000 if they can unknowingly win a life and death game. They have to exhaustively find their way out of a Minos Escape Room Facility in downtown Chicago (ah, yet another freaking movie that takes place in yet doesn't echo The Windy City). That's the rub of Escape Room, my latest review. In truth, I found "Escape" to be as disturbing or upsetting as any PG-13 endeavor I've ever seen. After viewing it, you might think twice about entering any sterile office building with I guess, one creepy employee and a butt load of surveillance.

Released in January yet better than your typical January "junk", Escape Room revitalizes the helplessly trapped, twenty-something genre. Bucked with a hint of originality, it has elements of stuff like The Game, The Belko Experiment, any Saw sequel, 1997's Cube, and even The Breakfast Club (go with me on this one). With "Escape", director Adam Robitel gives us a nifty little thriller that resembles the aforementioned but in good taste. He piles on the tension, effectively inserts flashbacks, avoids any bloodstained gore, and provides riotous set designs with mounds of verve. Credit also goes to the performance of Taylor Russell as Escape Room's reserved contestant named Zoey. Russell goes from timid physics student to gun-toting badass as the film readily wears on. It's a heck of a transformation.

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So yeah, "Escape's" polar characters walk the fine line between being annoying bickers and nervous humorists. And yes, Escape Room's last act piles on twists, turns, and implausible revelations just for the heck of it (the whole diegesis might have been a hallucination or an experimental fugazi, seriously?). Still, this flick with its fringe booby traps, its inventive shocks, and its remorseless cantering keeps you enthralled for 75% of the running time. Yup, I'm down for joining this "Escape Club" (that's a reference to an English pop band from the 80's if you didn't already know). My rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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