Movies for Escape Room Fans

2022.03.31.

If you happen to be both a movie fan and a fan of escape rooms, then we have a corker of a movie list for you. The following films will feature at least one character who is stuck in a location or room, and trying to get out. Many of these movies will also include puzzles or there may be mysteries to solve or unravel. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at movie genres, most movies that fall within the escape room genre tend to be either horror or horror-thrillers. Not all the following movies will be based on the theme of escape rooms literally, but can also utilise different escape strategies, stories and genres.  Don't take this list too literally, as it's only prerequisite is that there has to be an escape from a place or a room.

Exam (2009)

This British psychological thriller to start us off features more puzzles than horror. Eight candidates are stuck in a room for 60 minutes, which sounds very much like the beginnings of an escape room game. By following a set of rules the candidates must try and answer the questions before the ticking clock countdown to zero. Sounds Familiar? The movie is really a study about character, human reaction, and coping within the confines of a small room and in the company of those who may have secrets. By the end of the movie just one question remains. The last person standing will get their just rewards. We must confess that we found the film to be suspenseful right up until the last ten minutes. Then the ending was a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, we would highly recommend it, even though the tropes and story arcs may appear a little dated.

Fermat’s Room (2007)

This film centres around four experts, one inventor and three mathematicians, who are invited to a party in the hope of resolving a mathematical problem and thereby getting their names in the history books. Unfortunately, the room they are placed in starts shrinking.  rather similar to the trash compactor unit in Star Wars IV. They need to solve a number of puzzles before the room will crush them. This is a Spanish film and you will only be able to watch it with subtitles, unless of course you speak great Spanish. The ideas and the concepts behind the movie are excellent and truly original. Yes, it’s true there is a lot of mathematical terminology, which the average viewer may find difficult to comprehend, especially in a foreign language. But that doesn't detract from the suspense and the convoluted plot, with crosses and double-crosses. With a shrinking room and ever more difficult puzzles, you will be sitting on the edge of your seat.

Panic Room (2002)

This movie by director David Fincher contains all of his smooth direction and camera trickery that helps make it so much more than simply a movie, but a totally immersive experience.  Jodie Foster plays a mother who along with her young daughter, played by Kirsten Stewart, are stuck in a panic room after the house is broken into by some robbers, including the excellent but underrated Forest Whitaker and overrated Jered Leto. In truth, the movie isn't so much of an escape room genre, but rather about real life problem solving. There are some lazy tropes in the film, such as the daughter suffering from diabetes and needing her medication. But on the whole, it's an entertaining couple of hours, to pass away on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Infinity Chamber (2016)

In a typical dystopian future we have one person in a one room automated prison alongside one all-seeing, all-knowing computer. The latter is designed to keep the former contained within the four walls. There is a continuous interrogation and every day is a repeat of the last (in a homage to Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow), in which the protagonist is able to escape, only to discover he is still imprisoned. The film does fall back on some rather lazy flashback sequences which hope to answer basic questions as to how the man is here and why he is apparently in this prison. But the answers are only revealed as he starts to decode the computer program and understand how the machine, called Howard, operates. There's an aspect as to whether the prisoner is guilty or innocent, which ties into the reason why he's stuck in the room. The acting and direction is so-so, but enough of a calibre for us to care about the protagonist, and therefore wait until the end of the movie to see whether or not he survives.

Phone Booth (2002)

This Joel Schumacher movie sees the Irish actor Colin Farrell playing a slick media consultant stuck in a phone booth in the middle of a busy street in New York. There is a sniper’s rifle pointing at his head and he's obliged to follow the instructions of the gunman or face being executed in the middle of the street. In truth, though the concept may look good on the back of a film producer's napkin after a power lunch, having a single character stuck within the confines of a phone booth does get a little grating as the film proceeds. Nevertheless, there's enough tension, along with some puzzles to be solved, that help lift the movie to something a little more Hitchcockian than it deserves.

Cube (1997)

Taking a trip back over a couple of decades, we find a movie where six people wake up in a Cube. Their memories have been erased so they have no idea why or how they got there in the first place. Some of them are wearing booby trap devices. Nevertheless, they’re tasked with finding a means to survive and hopefully together they will discover the meaning of the Cube. What's great about the Cube is that it's filled with multiple bloody traps sprinkled around to keep the plot and the tension high, making the whole affair surprisingly gripping. The movie did a high enough box office to provide two more to the canon. The effects may look slightly dated, but the ideas are certainly as fresh today as they were in 1997. In some ways, we can credit Cube with being the first movie to kick off the whole confinement-gaming-horror genre.

House of 9 (2005)

In this movie we find 9 complete strangers locked in a house with no means of escaping. They have all been abducted, drugged and brought to this house by a wealthy maniac. His unseen voice controls everything and they are obliged to obey his instructions or else they will meet a grizzly end. If they comply there is always the promise of water, food or money, with the last person standing winning a possible $5 million. But that's time passes the stakes start to get higher and higher and we see just how far people can be pushed in order to survive. To call the film “cheesy” is an insult to cheese! It’s a sort of low-brow mix of "Saw 2" meets "House on Haunted Hill." But much, much worse. We see it as a sort of poor man’s “Battle Royale.” Dennis Hopper and Kelly Brook barely do the honours.

Saw (2004)

This is certainly one of the most referenced movies when anyone talks about escape room games. In the first of James Wan’s the Saw franchise movies, we find two men who are locked in a room and chained to a wall. They have no option but to play a serial killers game in which they must solve puzzles in order to survive. The sadistic killer is known as “Jigsaw” and you’ll only get to live by following his perverse directions. The original film was such a smash hit, in both terms of box office, and of bloody splatter and carnage, that they are still making franchise Saw movies over thirteen years later. Perhaps it's because the games and puzzles are both unusual and cruel, and also involve a huge amount of human butchery, that the gorefest movie goers simply can't get enough of it. Finally, there is the ultimate puzzle within the film which is the identity of the serial killer himself.
 

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