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Review: Escape Room – “Chock full of fiendish puzzles and brilliant booby traps”

Escape Room is directed by Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Last Key), written by Bragi F. Schut (Season of the Witch), and stars Deborah Ann Woll (Netflix’s Daredevil), Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil) and Taylor Russell (Netflix’s Lost in Space).

If you are yet to have the pleasure, an escape room is when you and some friends are locked into a room and given an hour to solve a series of puzzles so that you can unlock the door and get out. In Escape Room, if you don’t get out you die. And if you don’t solve a puzzle you die. So it’s less a fun, brain-flexing, team-building experience, and more of a horrific anxiety-inducing nightmare.

Zoey (Russell) is a shy college student who along with a smooth city boy, an alcoholic shelf stacker, a PTSD riddled war veteran (Woll), a kind and cuddly dad (Labine) and an escape room expert gets an invite to a mysterious new escape room company’s latest experience.

The group quickly find that the reception room they are waiting in is locked and the game has begun. And the room is actually a giant oven that will roast them alive if they don’t crack the clues quick enough to open up a path up.

The puzzles are very clever and Robitel wisely gives the audience all the visual information and time they need to be able to try and solve them alongside our onscreen heroes. The different rooms and traps are wonderfully horrid and play on a lot of primal fears such as heights, the cold and drowning.

Schut’s script slowly turns the screw and provides believable banter that pulls the team together and gives every character’s strengths time to shine. The reasons for the mazes creation and the selection of these particular participants are gradually meted out and add plenty of mystery and suspense to go along with the visceral thrills of the deadly traps.

Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine appear to relish parts completely outside of their regular pigeonholes and her physicality and his emotional centre make the team extremely easy to root for. It is Taylor Russell who steals the show though, with Zoey gradually gaining confidence until she becomes a badass tasked with carrying what slyly becomes a possible franchise forward in a very cool postscript.

Plenty of bloody fun, Escape Room is a cryptic combination of Cube, Saw and The Cabin in the Woods that is chock full of fiendish puzzles and brilliant booby traps.

Escape Room is out now in the UK

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