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ESCAPE ROOM (Movie Review)

“Escape rooms are like living video games,” a game-geek guy named Danny says excitedly while chatting with fellow contestants in the Minos waiting room. He ought to know, he tells them, since he’s participated in 93 such adventures before.

The Minos Escape Rooms, though, are something special. Danny has read online that few have ever beaten the Minos Rooms. And he gushes about the street cred his group will grab if they get out.

The other five participants waiting with him, however, aren’t really all that excited about potential online accolades. They have their own reasons for showing up.

Cutthroat businessman Jason is purely interested in besting another challenge that he hasn’t yet conquered. Quiet-but-super-smart Zoey just wants to step outside her comfort zone. Blue-collar trucker Mike is interested in the winner’s cash prize. Meanwhile, stoner Ben and former vet Amanda have their own private motivations, which they both hold close to the vest.

One thing’s for sure, though: They all want to get started. In fact, Ben feels so antsy about all the waiting around, as well as the other players’ incessant jibber-jabber, that he decides to slip out for a pregame cigarette.

The only reason he hasn’t lit up already is because there's supposed to be some Game Master guy showing up soon. It’s this dude’s job to lay out the rules for the clue-finding and room-escaping activity that the six participants are about to embark upon. But if he doesn't care about being late, Ben's gonna have one last smoke.

But when disheveled Ben reaches for his cigs and then the waiting room doorknob, the latter snaps off in his hand. And nestled in the hole left behind is something that looks like the dial on … an oven. “What the … ?” Ben growls.

Danny, however, just about leaps for joy. This must be it!, he exclaims. They’re already in the escape room. It’s the waiting room itself! And just like that, the six disparate strangers begin looking for clues. Zoey, for instance, soon spies the cover of an old Ray Bradbury novel, Fahrenheit 451. Surely that’s important, right?

Maybe so.

With a twist of the oven dial on the room’s door, the ceiling starts to glow hot with what look like oven coils. After another attempted application of a clue, the walls begin to glow red as well. It’s as if the room itself is turning into a giant oven. And the six people in it are the baking pastries of choice.

“Never seen anything like this,” gamer Danny admits. “Really immersive.”

But others in the room are beginning to suspect that this increasingly grim game … isn’t really a game at all.

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