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Hollywood Insider Escape Room Tournament of Champions Review, Sequel, Taylor Russell, Logan Miller

Photo: ‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’/Sony Pictures

‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ doesn’t waste much time to get the players back in the game. With returning survivors as the new candidates for the game, they must work together to escape each death trap of a room from a laser-filled bank to a sinking beach. Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) return to the screen again being the latest victims who barely survived the previous game. A search gone wrong for the mystery company, Minos, that is controlling and profiting off these dangerous rooms. Once the door shuts, the audience has barely any room to breathe as does the players jump from one trap to the next.

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Death Obsessed

It’s difficult to wrap our heads around why death and torture films are always an appeal to mass audiences. From TV shows like ‘Law and Order’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ to the horrifying films of the ‘Saw’ collection, viewers find themselves hooked on the ticking clock of someone’s life; the more screwed up the better. This film is no different though with a PG-13 rating, likely for the lack of blood and cursing. Adam Robitel adds to the fire with these two films which were defiantly influenced by the mastermind of James Wan’s ‘Saw’. 

With completely different storylines and character arcs, the films are both centered around the idea that the players are given fake control by an anonymous being. ‘Saw’ being Jigsaw as a haunting tricycle puppet and ‘Escape Room’ being a huge company that is supplying footage to buyers. With vague instructions on how to stay alive, it gives the characters hope of survival making them do almost anything to stay breathing. 

Horror films in theory should not be considered to be fun to watch, but time and time again prove that people are addicted to the thrill. ‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ gives watchers an extra kick with wild ways to be killed off and a clock that is always on its last couple seconds. The easy answer as to why people like to watch characters be tortured in such horrendous fashion is because of the blatant fact that it is just a movie. With that knowledge in the forefront of your brain when viewing tense situations, it gives enough to get your adrenaline going, but not enough for a fight or flight reaction.

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‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ – Puzzle Phenomenon

In the last five years, the family fun escape room has taken over; becoming an extremely popular activity. It was only time for a writer to take something that is supposed to be exciting and amusing and turn it into a new fear. This film already had an established audience with people who love to participate in escape rooms. It also becomes an enjoyable part of watching the film, not only are they rooting for them to solve it before time runs out, but the audience is also trying to piece it together as well. 

There is always something appealing when watching characters figure out puzzles and see it in their eyes as they get the last clue. A strong example is the Netflix hit ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, nothing had more tension than when she was playing chess. This film takes it to the next level of new rooms and more dangerous consequences.

It’s difficult to tell whether or not these films have increased the business sales in actual escape rooms, but it may be too easy now for devoted fans.

Connections To It All

Sequels are known for not living up to the first one but in this case ‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ is able to keep up. A huge way that they are able to accomplish that is by sticking very strongly to the first movie. It almost feels like a part two to the first film rather than a stand-alone. If a person were to watch the second one without viewing the first one, confusion would definitely be there though there are many flashbacks to help give reminders. What this film accomplishes is tying up any loose ends throughout the entirety. There is not one reference or detail that goes unnoticed and is touched upon later. This gives the audience that feeling of wanting to rewatch with the prior knowledge they now have to catch it all. 

This film ties a nicely wrapped bow on top of both these; for the most part… 

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Leading Lady

The character Zoey, played by Taylor Russell, continues to be the lead in the sequel. She is a strong, smart, and caring girl who fights her hardest and doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. Russell does a great job of being the glue of these films and watching her complete the puzzles is a thrilling experience. From the start, she is underestimated, but it doesn’t take long for people to follow her lead. 

A crucial thing that this film has is Russell, a young Black actress cast in a thriller. The stereotype of “the Black person dies first” is washed away with this. Not only is she the lead, but she is smart and strong. This character should be an example of why diversity is so necessary for all types of films. There are no conversations about race in the film, but that doesn’t matter. 

It’s Russell’s presence of being who she is in that role that makes a huge step for more diversity in the horror genre. Though there are some amazing Black-led horror films like Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’, alongside Justin Simien’s ‘Bad Hair’, there are heavy conversations of race tied into it. ‘Escape Room’ doesn’t ignore the conversations, but uses the opportunity to show what should be considered “normal” in many films and allow Black directors, writers, and actors to do their art without question.

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‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ has everything from acid rain showers to electric shock subway rides. An impressive sequel that ties up loose ends and feeds into the horror addiction that movie-goers crave. This film presents its self as the next installment of the ‘Escape Room’ universe, but definitely not as the last.

Where to Watch

‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ is in theaters nationwide. Adam Robitel’s next project is in post-production titled ‘Insidious: The Dark Realm’ set to be released this fall. Taylor Russell is filming ‘Bones & All’ directed by Luca Guadagnino​​.

Actors: Taylor Russell | Logan Miller| Deborah Ann Woll | Thomas Cocquerel | Holland Roden | Indya Moore | 

Director: Adam Robitel | Writers: Will Honley, Maria Melnik, Daniel Tuch, and Oren Uziel | Producer: Neal H. Moritz

By Jack Colin

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.

An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “The Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard.

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