Saturday, January 22, 2022

The "Escape Room" series is an example of the betrayal of Modern Cinema


For those of you who aren't aware- lucky you- "Escape Room" is a (likely endless) series of films that function, in the words of one of my favorite reviewers, as "Saw for Babies."  In other words, Violence Porn for the PG-13 set.  Because you're never to young to start reveling in the agony of complete strangers for the benefit of the viewing audience, I guess.

Here's why I find films like this especially insulting, and why I would never actually pay money to see any film of this depressingly popular genre (besides the fact that I find no entertainment in watching terrified people struggling to survive for five minutes, let alone ninety:)  they break what used to be a pretty standard and completely fair contract between movie studios and movie-goers.  The idea is that a film is supposed to tell a complete story:  It would have a beginning, in which characters are introduced, a storyline that included rising tension, and a satisfying resolution.  Way too many films these days- especially films like Saw, Escape Room, and any number of slasher films- break this contract with the innocent moviegoer who put down his money to watch such a story.  In short, they don't actually end with anything more than a "it's not over, bring your money back next year to see the next chapter" slap in the face.

This is ok if the film is based on a book series, and the people watching are well aware that they are watching one chapter in a series.  That's the contract they signed up for when they put down the money.  But unless a film is advertised in advance as a "Chapter" of a book that will eventually come to a satisfying conclusion, ending on a "stay tuned" note feels like a mugging.  

And why am I picking on Escape Room?  Because a "sequel" was released recently, and like the first film ends on a cliffhanger.  And here's where my blood really gets up- if you go to the Wikipedia page for the second film, the director reveals that there will be a third film "IF the box office allows for it."  In other words, there's no storyline being followed.  There's no conclusion being built toward.  If the fans of the first two films want to stay invested in this series to find out "what happens," (you know, like the fans of the Halloween film series have been waiting 44 years to find out,) well, they better hope that the second film made enough money to finance a third.  But they'd better realize that they are already doomed to repeat the past- if a third Escape Room film is released, and they think it's going to wrap up the series, they have no business being upset when it also ends on a cliffhanger.  The series will never end- it will will just die out when one of the films is not profitable enough to justify another chapter.  If you are a fan of Escape Room, you might as well just admit that you are in a trap of your own making and there is no escape for you, because Hollywood long ago figured out that telling a good story with a satisfying conclusion isn't as profitable as telling a series of stories (or, more accurately, the same story over and over again) with no wrap-up before the end credits.  

My solution to the problem is beautiful in it's simplicity:  If you go to see Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, leave the theater ten minutes before the ending.  There.  You've seen the wrap-up and you can now get on with your lives.  Don't wait for the blatantly obvious to Everyone On The Planet Who Has Ever Been To One Of These Films "Twist."  Just leave, and get on with your lives, and assume that Escape Room 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are just remakes of the first movie (which, in fact, they are anyway.)

1 comment:

  1. I'd noticed this for a long time myself. The real victims of a horror that never ends are the suckers paying good money to join Sisyphus in rolling that stone.