We are moving at a breakneck movie watching pace this year. We kind of rushed our usual Monday night routines and plans so we could go, for the first time this year, to our old familiar Dreamlounge theater to see the first new 2019 release of the year that we have seen....
Let me end the suspense right off the bat by saying this is easily the best movie we have seen this year thus far.
This is following a recent trend of kind of crowd pleasing horror films that actually can even grab a PG-13 rating.THE GOOD:
I dig the concept. It isn't anything revolutionary but it's effective. If you haven't done a real life escape room I HIGHLY recommend it. Seriously. They are a blast. Go with enough people in your own group to not be stuck with strangers though. Ok, enough about that.
So, if you have done a real escape room, you know there is a small part of you that wishes it was even harder and the stakes were even higher (not life and death for sure, but just an even greater thrill)
Anyway, this movie takes that concept and puts it into a feature film. SO cool.
Also, there is a real story to it. It isn't just "put people in a scary environment and have scary things happen". There is a thread that connects the main characters. There is a motivation hinted at and then exposed.
The characters......The characters are REAL characters. They don't ever get fully fleshed out, of course. This isn't a drama and there is only so much time to get to know them in the reasonable run time of this movie while all the action is happening, but the characters aren't horror movie archetypes that we don't really care about.
Characters Part 2: Some of the characters become so likeable or hateable that their fates become important to us. That's a good thing.
There are several different rooms to escape before the characters can be free. Each room brings a legit challenge that was interesting to watch them figure out.
The deaths were NOT needlessly graphic. This is really what makes this a PG-13 horror movie. They don't show gouts of blood or burnt faces or anything offputting. The deaths are still solid and impactful despite this. Don't worry
(and....oh yes. people die)
I really enjoyed the set up. We met several of the characters before they got their "invitations" to the escape room and those scenes were well done. Watching them figure out the puzzle invitations was also cool.THE BAD:
As usual in movies like this, we do see characters acting in ways we would never act. One HUGE plot hole is what they do when they realize the danger in the escape room is real. What would you do? Of course, drop everything and just destroy the place to get out. In this movie they just keep following the trail like good little mice (except for ONE noteable exception I won't spoil).
The ending is very disappointing (and I mean, literally, the very ending). It begs for a sequel that I fear won't be nearly as good as this one. This isn't a concept that can bear a lot of repeats I don't think.
The bad guys come off, at times, as kind of all powerful. That is a horror cliché that drives me nuts. Write the movie better. DOn't just make your bad guy all powerful (again, there is a couple of noteable and refreshing exceptions to this.)SUMMARY:
This has been a disappointing YEAR OF SEEING MOVIES so far. This isn't a great movie. it is, however, good enough to be the best we have seen this year by a lot. It had strong suspense, realistic characters and a cool premise. I liked it.