Escape Game (1 and 2): Let the games begin
Exactly three years ago to the day (January 4e 2019), the first escape room has been created, with an interesting premise: a group of aliens come together and find they must solve a series of puzzles in order to escape with their lives and move on to the next room. Each location is more evil than the last with clues on how to solve each location’s puzzles, but one by one players fall prey to the deadly aspects of the game. It turns out that every year the rich bet on who will survive the Escape room, which is managed by the “Gamemaster” and created by the “Puzzle Maker” and each group of participants has a theme. In the original film, the theme was “Survivors of Various Disasters”. The two protagonists, Ben (Logan Miller) and Zoey (Taylor Russell) make it out alive, but believe the only way for them to be truly free is to find and expose the Minos Corporation, which is behind it.
Which brings us to the following, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. Zoey finds contact details for Minos Corporations’ headquarters in New York City, but once they arrive, they are soon trapped in a subway train and learn that the other passengers are all “winners” from previous escape rooms. And so, a new set of pieces with brain twister puzzles begins. But where do these clues lead? Who is Sonya? And what does it have to do with this year’s game? Can Zoey and Ben still survive? Watch and find out.
I really like these two films. I love horror movies with a twist and a mystery to solve while giving us at least one likeable hero. In this series, most of the actors are empathetic and endearing. There are a few people who get their reward, but for the most part you encourage them all to survive and you get heartbroken when someone dies. Plus, the film leans more on performance, story, clever settings and mind-boggling puzzles, and less on gory and shocking value than many genre films today. The performances are all pretty good, with many fan-favorite actors in both films. Taylor is better known as Judy Robinson in the most recent Lost in space series. Deborah Ann Woll who played Amanda in the first movie is Real blood and Daredevil. Tyler Labine, Mike in the first movie was the adorable Dale in Tucker and Dale against Evil. Holland Roden, Rachel Ellis in second movie, was Lydia in MTVs Teenage wolf. Indya Moore as Brianna in Film 2 Was the Series’ Fantastic Angel Pose. The production value is high, with very clever and interesting “rooms” with intriguing clues to help the actors come up with solutions. The story goes well and the scenes are intense and nerve-wracking, with plenty of ‘in your seat’ moments.
When Tournament of Champions came out on Blu-ray and DVD, it came with an “Extended Cut” that added a scene to the start and changed the end. Originally I watched the extended edit and didn’t stage the theatrical release (but I plan to do so). The extended cut hints at who will be the “Big Bad” if more sequels are developed.