Like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, director Adam Robitel's Escape Room, which premiered on Jan. 4, shares key elements of its premise with a cult horror film from the 90s: Vincenzo Natali’s Cube.
Cube focuses on six strangers attempting to find their way out of a demented puzzle box filled with deadly rooms. No one knows why or how they arrived in the cube, only that they’re there and certain rooms contain deadly booby traps. The team eventually discovers that each member has a quality that aids in their quest, so they start working together. It’s an incredibly simple concept in both story and execution, and it brilliantly succeeds in creating more tension and suspense than much of mainstream horror.
Unfortunately, Cube is more about human depravity than it is about teamwork, so without spoiling anything about either movie, we can safely say that Escape Room is the sunnier story. Its characters might not all meet ideal outcomes, but they’re nicer to each other and learn more along the way.
CBR recently got the chance to sit down with stars Deborah Ann Woll and Jay Ellis. When asked about their perspectives on the cooperation in the movie, they agreed it was one of the more enjoyable aspects of their experience:
"That was actually one of my favorite things," Woll said. "Especially with women in horror movies, they tend to end up being catty or fighting with each other. I loved that Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Amanda (Woll) kind of had this bond, and they really connected with one another and that the vibe of this film is that the only reason they get through is because everyone takes the reins at a certain point, and they have to work together. That was one of the things I really loved about this: it wasn’t just pretty people trapped somewhere getting on each other’s nerves... Even Jason (Ellis), who has multiple sides to him, realizes that in order to survive he needs the other people."
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Ellis added, "Because it’s the moments where he tries to go off on his own -- and I think it’s true for all the characters -- that there is a moment where we all realize that they are better as a group than they are as individuals. And if you try to solve a puzzle on your own, you’re only going to get a piece of it, if you’re lucky. When Amanda has a piece, and Jason has piece, and Zoey has a piece, and Mike (Tyler Labine) has a piece, that's when you're actually able to get somewhere.
To be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way. While Cube is brilliant in its overall cynicism, three decades later the real world has plenty of discord and disunity to go around. Escape Room allows for a little respite from that, even if not everyone makes it out alive.
Adam Robitel's Escape Room, starring Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis and Nik Dodani, is in theaters now.