Slap the words “Escape Room” into IMDB and you’ll wind up with this low-budget 2017 Saw ripoff directed by Peter Dukes. Needless to say, we won’t be discussing that travesty here… although maybe if I’m feeling mad at myself one day I’ll get around to reviewing it. Instead, here are some of the best (or at least some of the most amusing) films about a group of people stuck in a room trying to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape. Enjoy!
Six complete strangers awaken in a recursive, cube-based maze filled with almost comically-deadly traps. In order to avoid getting sliced into bite-sized chunks or gently exploded they must figure out the secret that binds them all together. Cube is a classic of the genre, followed up by an endless succession of increasingly disappointing sequels. Still, it stands out because of its physics-defying environment and the sheer brutal menace of its set pieces.
Eight candidates for the job of a lifetime are locked in a room with a gun-toting guard, and served up an exam paper consisting of absolutely zero visible questions. An eighty-minute elbow-jabbing argument-fest ensues. Like a hypercharged episode of The Apprentice, this film has the significant advantage that most of the characters are awful enough that you won’t wince when they buy the farm. It is beautifully shot though.
Saw and its endless sequels are often written off as torture porn – and from about the second sequel on there’s basically little more to them than that. Films number one and two, however, are put together with a pleasing degree of complexity. Given that there are probably enough Saw-themed escape rooms worldwide to fill a stadium, the original Saw should almost certainly appeal to any escape room enthusiast who doesn’t mind a gorily broken ankle every now and then.
The Maze Runner
If you’re looking for something PG and significantly more entertaining than it is smart, The Maze Runner is a solid bet. Based on the extremely successful young adult novel series of the same name by James Dashner, this film tells the story of a group of boys (plus a token girl) trapped in the centre of a giant, monster-infested maze which – naturally – they’re pretty keen to escape. Expect first-season-of-Lost levels of mysteriousness, topped off with a semi-satisfying conclusion.
Twelve Angry Men
This film is so old it’s in black and white… but don’t be scared. It’s really, really good. Twelve not-actually-angry men are trapped in a jury room until they can reach a unanimous verdict. Which would be easy if one of them wasn’t quite so insistent that the accused is innocent. This classic drama doesn’t hang on elaborate physical puzzles or traps, but instead on the prejudices, priorities and persuasive abilities of its characters.
Five men wake up in a warehouse which shows every sign of having been the site of a highly-cinematic gun battle. Disappointingly, none of them can actually remember it… or, indeed, anything. While nursing splitting headaches, the five must piece by piece reassemble the events that lead them to this point – a process which involves an indecent amount of flip-flopping over who is good and who is evil. Mind-bending and fun… if somewhat dripping in cheese.