escape room movie

If you haven’t actually plunked down the money and tried out an “escape room” attraction, chances are strong that you’ve heard of one. The set-up is simple: you and a group of friends pay to be locked in a room full of clues. You must unravel the clues and find a way out of the room while a timer counts down. Some versions attract a loose narrative and others are just group puzzle solving for the sake of group puzzle solving. They’re fun and they’re increasingly popular, popping up in cities with surprisingly regularity. I’m pretty sure Austin, Texas (where I hang my hat) has at least five of them.

And like any tend, Hollywood has taken notice. A movie based on this kind of “interactive gaming experience” is in the works from the producer of the Fast and Furious franchise and the writer of Season of the Witch. Because of course.

The Wrap reports that Sony Pictures has bought an untitled escape room-themed pitch and has hired screenwriter Bragi Schut to write the screenplay. Neal Moritz, whose credits include everything from 21 Jump Street to Goosebumps, is on board to produce. Actual plot details remain unknown, but the film will somehow be inspired by the escape room phenomenon and will sure feature characters who are “locked in a room with others and must use elements within that space to solve a series of puzzles and find clues to escape the room within a set time limit.”

The thrill of an escape room experience is that it puts you in a cinematic position – you’re the hero and you have to face down the odds (and a ticking clock) to save the day. A film version of this experience can’t help but sound a little redundant. There are already more than a few films about people trapped in a single location who must work together to escape. It’s a great low budget concept. Hell, that low-budget aspect is why real-world escape rooms are so common.

So I have to wonder if there’s an additional twist here. Maybe the film will involve characters who sign up for what they think will be a fun hour of puzzle-solving only to discover too late that they’re in a life-or-death situation. Sort of like a Saw sequel, except that the victims opted in. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the perfect “escape room” movie already exists and that movie is Vincenzo Natali’s 1997 sci-fi thriller Cube:

All I can say is that the escape room I tried out was a ton of fun, but I’m not sure I see the movie potential here. Hopefully, this crew can prove me wrong.

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