Film, Venue

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions – Review

If this movie is successful, we might have a new Saw franchise on our hands.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is the sequel to 2019’s Escape Room, directed by Adam Robitel and starring Taylor Russel and Logan Miller, among others. The first film had a solid premise but it was wasted on unlikable characters and an unbelievable final act – the movie virtually lost its mind with insane plot point after insane plot point. This sequel continues the storyline (and the crazy tone of the last act) of its predecessor.

The movie is preposterous but fun. It takes the premise of an ‘evil escape room company’ that controls everything and just runs with it. As unbelievable as it is, the film does have energy and tension – it’s well directed and made. The characters were actually likable this time, they didn’t constantly bicker like the ones in the first film. Every cast member delivers a solid performance, particularly Taylor Russel, who has the potential to be a new scream queen. Director Adam Robitel, who directed the previous Escape Room, shows his talent behind the camera. Overall the film makes for a brainless but fun diversion.

However, there are two reveals in the third act that lack any sense of plausibility and, much like the first film, it has an in-your-face sequel bait ending. There were also some really obvious ADR moments.

I would say the biggest issue with this series is tone – these movies would be a lot scarier and thrilling if they took their premise seriously and realistically, instead of going for spectacle. The craziness and preposterousness of everything just sacrifices anything genuine.

The premise of the Escape Room films is very lucrative for franchise filmmaking. Though I would not label this series as a horror, it has the same element of the Saw movies in the 2000’s, as well as the Paranormal Activity and the Purge films for the 2010’s. Films made on small budgets can make a lot of money, and with that, produce a lot of sequels. The Escape Room series has the potential of being that for the 2020’s, should this instalment be successful.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is absurd fun, but sacrifices everything authentically thrilling or scary.

2 ½ stars

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September 2021
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