"Reel Reviews: ‘Escape Room’ provides jump scares and annoying characters" by: Jessica Shepard

   “Escape Room” opened domestically Jan. 4 and featured a twist on the popular escape room craze. 
   The film is rated PG-13 for terror/perilous action, violence, some suggestive material and language. 
   Honestly, I went into the film with high hopes only to be let down. 
   The film stars Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Taylor Russell, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, and Nik Dodani. 
   Six strangers are given mysterious black boxes with tickets to an immersive escape room for a chance to win tons of money. 
   Shy physics student Zoey (Russell), struggling stockboy Ben (Miller), young trader Jason (Ellis), war veteran Amanda (Woll), former miner Mike (Labine) and escape room enthusiast Danny (Dodani) are all gifted a puzzle box and after solving the puzzle, a clue invites them to the Minos Escape Room Facility for a chance at $10,000 should they successfully escape.  
   When Ben tries leaving the Minos waiting room for a smoke break, the door handle breaks off, locking them inside and revealing an oven temperature gauge.  
   The group figures out a puzzle involving coasters allowing them to escape just in time as the room erupts in flames. 
   Unfortunately, that’s just one of five total rooms they have to escape from. 
   The group find themselves in a winter cabin and Ben has a flashback to a drunk car accident he was in that killed his friends.  
   Using a clue linked to Ben’s incident they escape the cabin and enter a room that features a frozen “lake” with frigid temperatures.  
   The group fish out a key encased in a cube of ice, but as Danny attempts to retrieve Ben’s lighter to melt the cube, he falls into the ice and drowns.  
   The group manage to retrieve the key by melting it with body heat and escape the room. 
   The third room is an inverted bar with pool tables where sections of the floor are timed to fall away. 
   The fourth room is a surprise for everyone that’s left. 
   The group enter a hospital ward containing beds identical to ones each of the game’s players were treated in after being declared as sole survivors: Zoey survived a plane crash, Mike was the only miner pulled alive after a cave-in, all of Ben’s friends were killed after he drove drunk, and only Jason was found by the Coast Guard after he and his college roommate’s boat overturned in frigid waters.  
      The group learns Danny’s entire family was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning and Amanda was the only soldier in her unit to survive an IED blast in Iraq.  
   The remaining survivors realize deliberate planning led to them all arriving at the escape room: to see who would be the luckiest out of the lucky, and aspects of the game have been modeled on their lives. 
   It feels like the movie tries to shove too much into a too tiny timespan. 
   Plus, if you’ve seen the “Saw” film franchise, you’ve pretty much seen a lot of these gimmicks and traps. 
   But, it’s a decent starting suspense film for teens and it certainly makes me think twice about participating in an escape room with my friends.

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