Two years after the surprisingly entertaining first novel, here comes ESCAPE ROOM 2: NO WAY OUT to the cinemas. In our review we reveal whether the concept of “Saw”-like escape rooms is entertaining for less die-hard audiences.
OT: Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions (USA/ZAF 2021)
Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) achieved the seemingly impossible: together they escaped the deadly escape rooms of the sinister organization Minos. Although no one believes them, at least they have each other – and the plan to fight back. But this plan backfires: suddenly they find themselves in an ultra-complex escape tournament that Minos uses to tease previous champions. In addition to Zoey and Ben, the strict Rachel Ellis (Holland Roden), the angry Theo (Carlito Olivero), the struggling Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel) and the scarred influencer Brianna Collier (Indya Moore) are in the clutches of Minos. Can they puzzle their way to freedom?
The first “Escape Room” was certainly a surprise: Not only that, although the escape room hype had already lost its freshness in 2019, the film took in over $155 million at the box office on a $9 million budget. He was also surprisingly enjoyable! The story of puzzle lovers and puzzlers who unexpectedly find themselves in complex, deadly escape rooms, conveyed in a fun-adventure style with a slightly youthful, cheeky, ironic attitude of distance, was by no means based on a great shock factor. Let alone the brutality of the torture horror subgenre. Instead, “Escape Room” hit a similar nerve as Christopher Landon’s “Happy Deathday,” the popcorn party-friendly time loop horror comedy from Blumhouse. While Landon’s killer story can either pass as “Baby’s first slasher” (in the best possible sense) or as a lively, fun-smart pastiche for more experienced genre fans who are open to creative refreshments of well-known motifs, “Escape Room” is essentially a horror story. Scary-cat-adapted “’Final Destination’ meets ‘Saw’, but as a popcorn treat”. The collaboration between Sony and Original Film (“22 Jump Street”) combines the fascination with detailed, elaborate death traps that characterize the “Saw” franchise and the amusement of the “Final Destination” series, which fluctuates between excitement and malicious expectations . Just suitable for teenagers. And anyone who no longer needs training wheels in the horror genre, but is still open to snappy concepts, can simply enjoy the wealth of ideas and the fast, upbeat implementation.
Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel) tries to save his fellow fighters in one of the many escape rooms.
Before “Escape Room: No Way Out” the question arose as to which path this series would take: Should we rely on the increasingly convoluted, cross-film story of “Saw” or should the films stand more on their own (“Final Destination” sends regards despite individual connections between the parts)? The answer is ultimately: The script team Bragi F. Schut & Maria Melnik dare to strike a balance. On the one hand, “Escape Room: No Way Out” continues the story from the first novel and intensifies the myth of Minos as a well-connected organization that plans well in advance. On the other hand, in “Final Destination” style, the narrative and tonal emphasis is on a sardonic “New spaces, new dangers, how will the inevitable occur?” The real stars of the film are once again the escape rooms, and they are playful, varied and technically sophisticated. Although the digital trickery is sometimes of shaky quality, the traps, puzzles, false trails and ominous foreshadowing are just as fun as in the first part. This time, director Adam Robitel whips through the rooms a little more quickly, thereby avoiding that the audience, who is now familiar with the premise, is not constantly ahead of the puzzle traps – but he also skilfully uses it as an element of suspense so that a clear danger emerges every now and then , which hangs over the figures like a sword of Damocles. There are no lengths, but the characters unsurprisingly have to hold back given all the space the rooms take up and the quick narrative style.
“’Escape Room’ is basically a ‘Final Destination’ meets ‘Saw’, but as a popcorn treat adapted to horror frighteners.” The collaboration between Sony and Original Film combines the fascination with detailed, elaborate death traps that characterize the “Saw” franchise and the amusement of the “Final Destination” series, which fluctuates between excitement and malicious expectations.”
The cast of characters ranges from functionally used decals (Indya Moore’s likeable but thinly sketched influencer) to frequently used archetypes. The man of God who has been through bad things and now struggles with his faith is a well-known genre element, and “Escape Room: No Way Out” has no way of bringing anything new to it. But if you see the figures as part of a moving, mechanical puzzle box (and that’s how Minos seems to view his victims), it doesn’t bother you: Nathan fulfills his function in this group of existing champions, and is sometimes a savior for his group Bringer of doom – and Thomas Cocquerel does his part to convey this wobble in a plausible way. The same applies to “Teen Wolf” star Holland Roden as the pain-resistant, annoyed but friendly puzzler or the returning characters from the original: Ben is extremely worried about his fellow human beings, but at times overwhelms the group, and Zoey’s constant efforts to keep a cool head Preserving and acting rationally help when tinkering, but slows the troops down when speed and improvisation are required. This group dynamic remains too lukewarm to offer real drama, but on the level that the morbid “Final Destination” curiosity about the further course of the killer rooms is supposed to prevail, it keeps the action fresh.
Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) are in the same boat. Or better: in the same escape room.
By the way, the sound is really impressive: it’s constantly rattling and rattling and crunching and squeaking and hissing and bubbling around the cinema audience. This creates an acoustic spaciousness and thanks to the force with which the sound is mixed, it very effectively increases the urgency of the situation. It sounds like you’re in the middle of the craziest escape room in the world – and that’s the simple, amusing element of success in these films.
Conclusion: Even more of what “Escape Room” has already done: With less of a surprise effect, but with a thrillingly quick, narrative twist, “Escape Room: No Way Out” continues the surprise hit of 2019.
“Escape Room 2: No Way Out” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 19, 2021.