• Rough Cut Staff

Escape Room 2: More Dumb, More Fun


Sony

Picture this: you’re at the movies. You dropped $22.50 on a ticket, a large coke, and some Reese’s Pieces (this publication does not receive ad dollars from Reese’s Pieces, though it is open to offers). You’re seeing the latest horror flick, who knows what the title is, you’ll probably forget it in 24 hours. There’s a giddily terrifying sequence, you’re literally shielding your eyes while checking on your neighbor to see if they noticed you shielding your eyes, and suddenly...character development? And not good character development. No, this is that type of slowed down, drawn out backstory that every horror movie decided it needed after the idiotic concept of “elevated horror” became a topic of conversation. You sit there rolling your eyes and wishing a movie would lean into those impossibly improbable puzzle-box terrors.


Boy, do I have the movie for you.


Escape Room: Tournament of Champions takes the creative death traps of its predecessor, peels back the pointless layers of set-up and half-baked character motivations, and hits the pedal to the metal on popcorn-enhanced, cinematic fun. Some of the twists are obvious, the solutions telegraphed by the trailer, the nature of the puzzles, or both. But like an actual escape room, there are so many contraptions within riddles within illusions that it’s a blast to figure out how they all fit together, even if some of them received less effort from their creators.


The plot is in the title: former Minos Escape Room survivors are brought together to see who is the true champion. Unlike the first film, Escape Room: TOC doesn’t waste time on set-up. After a flurry of “remember what happened last time?” scenes to reorient the audience, the sequel plunges us directly back into the world of high stakes game-ifying. And in this second entry, the writers and director Adam Robitel build on the first entry’s most dynamic set-piece: the billiards room. Again succeeding where the original failed, TOC understands the importance of surroundings and architecture to the audience’s engagement with the puzzles. There’s a train, a beach, a bank, and a...well I’ll let you figure the rest out.


The story goes off the rails, but these things always do - even the absurd plot machinations are far preferable to the boring alternative. Taylor Russell is as ferociously empathetic as always, a rising superstar who has outgrown the series and yet still commits to it 100%. Logan Miller does schlock well, but you can tell he stopped caring about halfway through filming. Depending on box office returns, there might be a third film - the series certainly wants itself to become a trilogy. And why shouldn’t there be? We could use more funhouse horror at the movies.