Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Review – Head Empty, No Thoughts
As a fan of all kinds of horror, of course I like arthouse horror. From The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to the more contemporary work of Ari Aster and Robert Eggers, I like a complicated yet spooky narrative. There’s something deeply satisfying about a horror movie that keeps me thinking days and weeks after I see it. On the other hand, though, sometimes I just want to see some stabby-stabby. Or something equally silly. And if that’s the case for you, then the Escape Room series is perfect. So let’s review Tournament of Champions, aka Escape Room 2.
I’m Pretty Sure We Already Escaped
image via Sony Pictures Entertainment
First, before I review Tournament of Champions, let’s go over the plot for these things. I should note that this section will contain spoilers for Escape Room part one. However, if you see literally any promotion for Tournament of Champions, then you can already figure out how Escape Room ends.
Because yep, that’s Zoey’s (Taylor Russell) face on the poster. Obviously, she escaped the escape room in part one. In case you forgot, in the first installment, Zoey and her fellow captives were all lone survivors. And I mean that literally–all of them had been the sole survivor of some kind of disaster. Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll) the Iraq War veteran, for instance, had been the only person to survive an IED blast. Ben (Logan Miller) had been the only one in his friend group to walk away from a car accident. And Zoey survived a plane crash that killed everyone else onboard, including her mom.
One by one, though, the game whittled them all away, all except for Ben and Zoey. Ben was going to be the winner, but the Gamemaster tried to strangle him as he left. That gave Zoey the opportunity to escape, too, and save Ben’s life.
Escape Room 2: Never Don’t Be Escaping
image via Sony Pictures Entertainment
The end of Escape Room set up the opportunity for a sequel, as it revealed that this whole plot was much larger than you might think. As in Eli Roth’s Hostel films, this is basically all a game for the amusement of rich people. The Minos corporation, who runs these games, sets up escape rooms with themed participants. Then wealthy jerks bet on the outcome.
After the events of the last movie, though, Zoey is more determined than ever to find out where Minos is and how she can crater the whole organization. The problem, though, is that Zoey’s traced the company to an abandoned building in Manhattan. She and Ben, on the other hand, are in Chicago. Understandably, Zoey has some issues with getting on a plane. Nevertheless, Ben agrees to drive with her to New York.
Once they get there, however, that abandoned building is really abandoned. Through some maneuvering, though, Zoey and Ben are lured to another location. And that’s where they realize they’re trapped in a new game. Their fellow players, which include Brianna (Indya Moore), Rachel (Holland Roden), Nate (Thomas Cocquerel), and Theo (Carlito Olivero), are all also escapees of previous games. But will they make it out of this one?
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Review
If all you’re looking for from this sequel is a movie much as the same as its predecessor, then congratulations. You have a winner. You see, one time I described another movie sequel as being like the filmmakers xeroxed the first movie and then stapled it to the second. I’m going to xerox that description and staple it to this one.
Because that’s how the whole thing plays out–basically just like the first one. Zoey and Ben, plus some less important characters, find themselves in a series of escape rooms. One by one, the game’s dangers pick off players. Then someone or someones survive.
To put that in a less negative tone, this isn’t that bad if all you’re looking for is your own kind of escape. It’s mindless summer movie fun, and there are definitely worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Enjoy the AC, eat your popcorn, root for Zoey and company, and turn off your brain.
And you’ll certainly have to do the last one if you watch this. Little of it makes logical sense, starting with how they got all the players onto the subway car (the first escape room) in the first place. Even as you accept that, don’t expect any surprises. Throughout the movie, for instance, you may be anticipating a scene from one of the trailers. As the movie goes by and you still don’t see it, then it gradually becomes clear. They put the dang ending of the movie IN THE TRAILER. I guess that’s a spoiler for those of y’all who haven’t watched the trailer yet.
Anyway, as I mentioned last week in my review of Fear Street Part Two, it’s hard to thread the needle with the middle part of a trilogy. You either succeed, with a movie like that one, or it just sits as a space-filler between the beginning and the end. Unfortunately, Tournament of Champions, which might as well have slapped “TO BE CONTINUED?” on the screen at the end, sits firmly in column B. The Escape Room movies, buoyed by strong performances, are empathetic with their characters in a way not all horror movies are. It’s a shame that they can’t extend the same courtesy to their audience.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is now in theaters. You can watch the trailer below.
What did you think of Escape Room 2? Tell us in the comments below or on our social media.
featured image via Sony Pictures Entertainment
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.