Movie #37 2022: Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021)

If you’ve been here before, you may have noticed that there are quite a few horror thrillers based around the novelty of escape rooms. Some are not quite as successful as others. For instance, there’s another 2017 movie that I reviewed last year starring Scream alum Skeet Ulrich, then there’s yet another 2017 Escape Room starring a fairly unknown cast that I didn’t review but have seen and barely remember. Thankfully, this one is a sequel to the most successfully executed one of the lot, which was released in 2019 and starred True Blood‘s Deborah Ann Woll. I say ‘successful’ loosely, as it was mostly average, but at least it was watchable and made a hefty profit at the box office.

At the end of the 2019 incarnation of escape room shenanigans, it was revealed that the survivors had uncovered a much bigger plot to drop unaware ‘contestants’ into escape rooms across the globe. No, it was never about just that one room, but there was something even more sinister at work. In this 2021 sequel, some of the characters from the first outing return, and quickly realise that they have been hoaxed into another deadly challenge, this time with contestants who are all past ‘winners’. (Hence ‘Tournament of Champions‘.)

In short, this is more of the same. Although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. To be honest, this one starts off a little slow but then once it got into the swing of things… I kind of enjoyed it?

This sequel is by no means the pinnacle of filmmaking – a lot of it is very dark (and by that I mean the actual colouring) and let’s just say the acting leaves a lot to be desired in most cases. However, there’s something about this specific manifestation of escape room movies that makes it much better than the rest. Perhaps it’s that there’s an overarching plot (yes, an actual plot) that helps it to stand out and have its own identity. 

So what made this rather entertaining despite it being fundamentally flawed? The rooms themselves here were so creative in their deadly pursuits that they really were like nothing I’ve seen before. Like, I’ve seen every Saw movie and I was still surprised and extremely tense throughout most of Tournament of Champions even though the character endings were inevitable. Plus, it’s nice to be surprised by the order in which characters die in a horror film for once. 

Now the let down for quite an original, dramatic plot is that the script itself was dire. It’s actually such a shame because the concept of each room and the plot twist at the end were really quite unique seeing as this idea has been done to death at this point. But the dialogue? The cheesy monologues? Bleh. I might have actually preferred it if it was a silent movie…

Anyway, flaws aside, I won’t apologise for having a good time watching this. It was engaging and certainly gripping, and I wouldn’t be mad if Robitel went ahead with a third instalment.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is available to stream on Sky Store and Now TV in the UK.

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