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No Escape (2020)

The appeal escape rooms is lost on me; my feelings on them probably are best summed up by The Gang Escapes episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That said their premise does lend itself rather nicely to horror genre.

No Escape (directed by Will Wernick) is the first horror I’ve seen to make use of an escape room as its location. It follows vlogger Cole (Keegan Allen) as his friends take him to an exclusive escape room in Moscow. The experience is personalised and usually only available to the mega rich, but to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Cole’s channel the whole trip is financed by a billionaire who happens to be a fan.

The first third of the film will be familiar to even the most sporadic fan of the horror genre. We see a group of twenty some things having the time of their lives, only for it to be interrupted by an event that reveals the first hints of their true selves. As formulaic as this is it does actually do a good job at building both the characters and the films own universe. In fact the scenes where Cole and his girlfriend go and explore Moscow work really well.

Once the film moves to the escape room the tension ramps up very quickly, you really do feel a strange sense of unease. We then watch as Cole solves puzzles to save his companions from some Saw style traps.

Post these scenes the film soon descends into Hostel style torture porn. This unfortunately means that all the tension the film previously built up is dispersed very quickly. It all becomes a little stupid; meaning the cruelty of what is being done to the victims is lost. Somehow No Escape still does enough to entertain and there are even a couple of nice Die Hard references.

No escape is an enjoyable piece of light horror. The type of film where you can switch off your brain and just let it wash over you. This does mean it leaves you feeling rather empty as the credits roll. Fun at the time, but in hindsight unsatisfying; this is how I imagine anyone would feel post completing an escape, so rather apt I suppose.

Marks out of 10: 6

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