The main reason why I decided to speak about No Escape Room, a made for TV psychological horror flick that probably many people never heard of before, is that it’s a rather accessible movie, one that you can easily check for free on DirectTV or the Sci-fi channel (if you live in the US).
The movie follows father and daughter who, on their way to a holiday destination, stop by at a gas station as their car breaks down – it really sucks, I experienced the same shit some 10 days ago while I was going on holiday as well (insert angry face here). Unlike the main characters of No Escape Room, me and my girlfriend weren’t talked into killing time by joining a room escape experience! When dad and daughter get to the house where the game takes place, they meet up with a couple and a guy, and the fun begins… but also ends fast, as they find themselves trapped in something more sinister.
The crazy thing about No Escape Room is that, despite its low budget and made-for-TV feel, the movie is very entertaining and keeps you guessing throughout. This is a rather enjoyable combination of mystery-puzzle filmmaking and horror, which is mostly psychological with only a few moments of gore and violence scattered throughout.
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Surprisingly the acting isn’t bad at all: father and daughter have a chemistry that feels genuine and realistic, with the daughter being played by Jeni Ross, a young actress who behaves like an actual teenager in the film. Kudos! The single guy, who looks like a douchebag, plays against type and is very believable in his performance.
Yet, besides the struggle to solve the mystery, No Escape Room keeps you entertained and hooked due to the great cinematography – given this is a made for television film – and camera work. Alex Merkin – a made-for-TV and straight-to-DVD horror movies director – really put effort into the project and I admire that.
Also, No Escape Room doesn’t rely too heavily on jump-scares or unwarranted loud sound effects to startle the audience: it’s the atmosphere, the ‘what the hell would I do in a situation like that?’ feeling to make this viewing experience somewhat uncomfortable.
Other than some pacing issues and a few dumb lines of dialogue, my main problems with this movie involve spoilers, therefore jump to the end of the review to check my final grade if you want to avoid the spoilers.
[SPOILERS for this paragraph] the main issue is that, at the end of the movie, nothing makes sense. Basically, we come to realise that father and daughter are stuck in an eternal loop they can’t escape from. This is very interesting conceptually, but why is that? Is the house cursed? Is the game cursed? What really happened to the other players? Who set up this ‘escape room’ attraction? At the very end of the film, father and daughter find themselves in the gas station where everything started, and they see and her themselves talking like they were at the beginning of the movie. Does this mean they are now ghosts? Then why they can be heard by and spoken to other people? Bottom line, the whole script is kind of manipulative, since it asks you to think: ‘it’s a horror movie, it doesn’t need to make sense’, which is disrespectful and wrong.
Overall, I didn’t regret watching No Escape Room and, if you’re okay with a horror flick that will provide you with some mindless, late night entertainment, you should give it a chance too.
No Escape Room 6/10