"Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Indya Moore, Holland Roden, Thomas Cocquerel, Carlito Olivero, and Isabelle Fuhrman. Released on July 16, 2021, the film has Zoey Davis competing in another series of deadly escape rooms.
The film is directed by Adam Robitel, who also directed "The Taking of Deborah Logan" and "Insidious: The Last Key". It is a sequel to the 2019 film "Escape Room", which was also directed by Robitel. We may have escaped the torture, but the games are just beginning. The first weekend of 2019 saw the release of one of the very few horror films that I admittedly enjoyed. While far from a masterpiece, the film delivered plenty of frights and tension in its atmosphere and death traps to entertain any fan of the genre. With its successful box office run and cliffhanger ending, it's no surprise that we're getting another chance to survive the deadliest escape rooms known to man. Since I enjoyed its predecessor, I had no problem seeing what happens next to the remaining survivors. Was it as appropriately dangerous as the escape rooms it offered or was it another unnecessary horror sequel that's only made for money? Let's find out.
The film takes place after the events of "Escape Room". Zoey Davis (Russell) and Ben Miller (Miller) are the last two survivors of a series of dangerous escape rooms designed by the Minos Escape Rooms Corporation. They're determined to find the ruthless organization in New York City and take it down for good. During their journey, Zoey and Ben become trapped in another set of escape rooms, with each one being deadlier than the last. They must join forces with the other survivors to solve the riddles, escape with their lives, and bring Minos to justice. If you're new to these movies, the best way I can describe them effectively is that they're PG-13 rated versions of "Saw" minus the gore. So there's a good chance that you can stomach your way past those dangerous traps instead of the ones by Jigsaw. What I liked about its predecessor was its use of tension, its entertainment values, and the concept. "Escape Room" provided a horror twist to the purpose of the escape rooms. Rooms that force people to solve puzzles within the time limit to advance. Adding the life-or-death scenario to these puzzles made the rooms more challenging, more stressful, and even more hazardous than the plain ones. As I mentioned before, the execution of this concept wasn't perfect, but it was a solid, tension-filled ride regardless of its flaws. Unsurprisingly for me, the same can be said for "Tournament of Champions", a decent follow-up that maintained the original's strengths but also retained some of its weaknesses. One of those strengths, in particular, was Adam Robitel's direction. While the escape rooms in the sequel didn't improve the stakes from the original, Robitel managed to consistently blend the psychological atmosphere of those rooms with the suspense and mystery aspects. He provided a good amount of anxiety and urgency in the death traps and the characters themselves to make the audience feel like they're in those situations as well. The cast also did their part to follow suit with the film's tension thanks to their tolerable performances. Taylor Russell and Logan Miller were the only members to reprise their roles from the first film since they're the only ones who survived the last game. They're both respectable as usual in their roles as Zoey and Ben, respectively. The new supporting cast was also decent as the new survivors, but they're not worth remembering that much like the ones in the first film. As for the weaknesses it had, they're a tad less forgiving than the ones in its predecessor. Despite a couple of differences, "Tournament of Champions" is a carbon copy of the first film, so if you've seen "Escape Room", you've practically seen the sequel. The story was tolerable for the most part, but it can leave a puzzling expression on the detractors' faces after the first 30 minutes. The film also had a few pieces of bland dialogue and a noticeable urge to hint at possible follow-ups. However, what kept this puzzle engaging for me was its intriguing surprise during its third act, its theme of trauma, and the execution of the suspense angle.
Overall, "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" didn't improve its game that much, but it's still a gripping sequel that's just as intense and fun as an actual escape room. While its flaws from its predecessor remain, such as its familiarity and the lack of strong supporting characters, the film succeeded in delivering precisely what fans of the original (including me) wanted. The cast was decent in their roles, Adam Robitel's direction was superb, and the tension-filled sequences were eye-catching. This is another puzzle that's worth solving, especially if you enjoyed the first film for what it was, and yes, I would prefer these films over the recent "Saw" installments any day.