Discovering the clues and unlocking the mystery was the key ingredient that made Escape Room a fun and exciting horror movie. Plus, we can’t forget some of the creative rooms that were implemented into the game to see which contestant was to fail or push forward. Personally, I love the upside bar room as my favorite. Although it was inevitable that a sequel was due to be made, fans of Escape Room couldn’t help but draw correlation from other films that are similar such as Cube and the infamous Saw. Now that a sequel has been released how does it fair when compared to its predecessor?
The film opens with a recap of the events from the first movie to remind audiences what exactly unfolded. All but two contestants made it out of the escape room alive and the company behind all of this is the Minos Corporation. They are hiding in the shadows orchestrating these complicated escape rooms in the hopes of seeing everyone that enters fail. It’s a grim and disturbing scenario that both Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) are all too familiar with. Zoey is very smart and figures out where Minos is located, which is New York City. After pressuring Ben to accompany her to expose the company and their evil doings, they find the location, only to find it an abandoned building. Zoey wants answers and justice and will not stop in her quest to find those responsible. Ben, on the other hand, just wants to move on with his life. He suffers from nightmares from his ordeal and wants to forget all that happened. He survived and he’s grateful that he’s still alive whereas Zoey is a mission for redemption.
With the hopes of uncovering the truth of Minos seemingly shattered, Zoey and Ben run across a vagrant who urges them to steer clear of the abandoned sight but steals a necklace that Zoey wears. Both Zoey and Ben give chase and enter a subway station almost catching this mysterious person. They chase him into a subway car but in a last-ditch effort, he eludes them as the train doors close. Zoey has lost her necklace, a gift given to her by her mother, and while the train departs the station, both she and Ben comes to terms with not finding Minos. There are several other passengers on the train too, but as soon as the train departs, their car becomes separated from the rest of the train which breaks off onto another rail and enters a different station. This is no ordinary train. This is another game that has been setup by the Minos Corporation.
After getting their bearings and realizing what is at stake here, all the passengers now know what is going on. It turns out that all the other passengers besides Zoey and Ben are previous contestants of other escape rooms. They were the ones who escaped and won their freedom. These champions include Rachel (Holland Roland), Brianna (Indya Moore), Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel) and Theo (Carlito Olivero). The game begins and the threats are real. I won’t reveal much else here in terms of plot but one thing to mention is the games are much more difficult and the consequences for failing are much more dire. Some of those include death by electric shock, drowning in quicksand and even getting burned from acid rain! I do admire the creative skills in making these new rooms but overall, something was lacking in this sequel and that the mysterious nature of the game itself.
Aside from the clever designs of the rooms, this movie is a rehash of what happened in the previous film which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. Both Saw and Cube did the same things with their sequels but at the very least Saw II expanded the story with an interesting plot and invited the audience to see the main villain, Tournament of Champions is basically Saw II without the bite. I did admire the complicated puzzles and waiting to see who will live or die, but I didn’t feel a compelling need to root for any of the new characters that we meet. They are there just to die, suffer or perhaps survive.
With a brisk running time of under ninety minutes, there wasn’t much time for me to become involved in the plot nor the characters. The suspense factor is missing this time around and the film felt as if it were trying to up the ante in terms of escape rooms and punishment for the contestants. The story is convoluted to say the least with a lingering question of… how did Minos somehow get all the past champions onto the same train at the same time in order to get this new game started? There is a twist near the end of the film but when that moment happens, I just shrugged my shoulders and wondered to myself, “Seriously?”
Score 2.5 out of 5
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is a well-intentioned and solidly made horror film. Director Adam Robitel returns and his style makes for a somewhat entertaining experience but overall, this is a sequel that does nothing interesting to move the plot or expand the story in an engaging way. Sure, the rooms are very cool and well-designed but everything else just falls flat. In short, if you enjoyed the first Escape Room then I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this one but you may be feeling that you wanted more out of this sequel than a by-the-numbers continuation.