12th April 2019

Escape Room film vs Escape Room reality

The new escape room film ‘Escape Room (2019)’ has been out for a couple of months now with modest success making in excess of £150m. However, it also got mixed reviews and caused quite a stir in the escape room community. With that in mind we decided to look at the escape room film and escape room reality side-by-side. Debunking any misinterpretations deduced from a fictional psychological thriller verses an immersive gaming experience and industry that has almost doubled in the UK in the last year reaching 1139 escape rooms, which represents a 42% annual growth.

What is this escape room film you speak of?

There are a few escape room movies, but today we speak of the latest release – Escape Room (2019) directed by Adam Robitel. What’s it about? Well, an escape room – silly. More nuanced than that though, Jason Stroud at Thinking Outside the Box Escape Rooms offers a great summary to get you all in the zone in his recent escape room film review:

“Six strangers are called to action via an intriguing cube invitation to win at an Escape Room for a money reward. The characters consist of traditional tropes; the know it all, the enthusiast, the timid one, the one who hates everyone, the comedian, all finding themselves trapped in a deadly game.”

Whether you have seen the film or just heard the escape room horror story hype, we spoke to escape room owners and hosts in the UK to give you a hearty lowdown on what to expect in reality vs the film. A little heads up, there are some spoilers but it is about an escape room, so there’s hardly going to be an insane plot twist to mess with here, which is a little disappointing anyway if we’re honest – sorry, not sorry. So, without further ado let’s crack on shall we…

Escape rooms in reality are a lot less ‘murdery’

ecscape room film 6

Escape room film:

The escape room film includes a lot of bloodshed leading to the untimely demise of players attempting to escape.

Escape Room reality:  

Escape rooms and their hosts or game masters are a lot less…murdery. We actively discourage murder being committed within our games and on or by our game masters. The idea of the escape room being for pure survival instead of fun is a difficult sell. It’d also be a HR nightmare and a hell of a lot of paperwork, not to mention the high turnover. Most importantly though, as escape room supervisor Jane Currie concluded:

“…that would be a bitch of a reset.”

Escape room film buzzkill – we won’t give you 10k

Escape room film:

All of the players receive a personalised ‘cryptic’ invitation that promises a winning prize of $10k.

Escape room reality:

While you may see a well-placed advertisement from us here and there, you won’t be receiving a cryptic invite anytime soon. Invites offering ten thousand dollars to win are also off the cards. Partly because we are UK based and partly because that’s what, 30 or something in UK pounds? Most you’ll get is an apathetic welcome and, in our case, a bottle of the good stuff if you win. It’s also difficult to personalise a game to everyone’s taste. We were going to hire someone to trawl through your facebook posts from 5 years ago and keep tabs on your instagram but, you know, GDPR.

Every escape room theme and aesthetic is different

escape film

Escape room film:

The Escape Room film is an elaborate maze situated in a high rise building with state of the art technology.

Escape room reality:

Our escape rooms in comparison are derelict shacks. Just kidding – you’ll find our escape rooms in some of the countries best historical boozers. Our escape rooms may only be confined to only one room but at least you can have a stiff drink afterwards. In fact, most Escape Rooms in the UK are set in a solitary room and only span an hour or so. No worrying about getting someone to feed your fish or water your begonias while you’re away! The good news is that as of 2018 there are 415 distinct escape room venues in the UK, all with immersive themes and unique scenery – no escape room will be the same. Oh and despite our hosts being a little bit creepy, masochistic and in need of a good shower, the whole vibe of our escape rooms is a little less ominous.

Getting physical isn’t always part of the game

Escape room film:

There’s a lot of running and physical exertion in the film and we’re not talking ‘Crystal Maze’ esque jumpsuit clad strides.

Escape room reality:

While some escape games and crossover immersive gaming experiences and street games, like Operation Mindfall, can involve a degree of running. The main reason people love escape rooms is less about stamina and more about flexing those brain muscles. None of this fighting for your life (seriously, we cannot stress this enough) shenanigans.

The Escape Room Film didn’t get it all wrong though

escape room film 3

The depiction of players muddling through a range of clues and challenges was bang on in places. Celyn Rees, Gamemaster at The Escape Game, said:

“I like the realistic elements of the players, clearly thrown in for gamemasters. One of the players in the film said “let’s try 1234” for a padlock. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that!”

The escape room film does demonstrate the basic workings of a real escape room in the sense that in reality you will be solving clues to find keys or trinkets and uncover hidden compartments. We also actively encourage you to grab, twist and yank on all kinds of knobs and levers – just look before you touch or it could get awkward. No really, please use those torches – It happens. The good news is that you usually get to pick who you get locked in the room with, which is incidentally another element of a good escape room represented well in the film. While many rooms do allow couples or smaller groups, an escape room is best experienced in a larger group of 6 or more. Even better in reality everyone makes it to the end and you are all winners – or losers if you suck of course. Either way you will all get the bonding and team building benefits of being on the same mission.

Escape Room Film Vs Escape Room Reality Verdict

Guy holding an open clock pendant.

In one sense the escape room film has had a positive impact, creating a heightened awareness of the craze and sending audiences flocking to their local escape room to give it a try. On the other, it’s really not a great depiction of what an ‘actual’ escape room is like and is muddying the waters a little for people who haven’t tried one before. As a consequence, while many in the community appreciate the film as a vehicle for exposing the art of escape rooms, there is also concern that it will have a negative impact. They needn’t be according to Director of The Escapement Lewis Hunt who said:

“We still get loads of first time players who have seen the film but it doesn’t share the same type of game dynamic like multi linear puzzle sets and the emphasis on fun that I would expect from an escape experience. However, even though the game absolutely does not match the expectation, players are left pleasantly surprised.”

Owner of Handmade Mysteries and Brighton and London escape rooms Lady Chastity’s Reserve and Poppa Plock Wonky’s Workshop, James Addy, added:

“While there are mixed reviews of the film and a mixed reaction from the escape room community on the impact on player expectations, I welcome any opportunity to raise awareness of the art of escape rooms. It probably helps that, while we certainly do take the safety of our players very seriously, the ‘twisted’, ‘bizarre’ and resulting heightened immersive tension is a key attribute of our escape rooms. All of our escape room games are hidden in the depths or historical (and mostly haunted) pubs across London and Brighton.”

Despite our escape room ‘reality’ comparisons, the main goal of an escape room is in fact to escape reality. To give players an immersive experience and bend the realms of reality. Whatever your views on the escape room film, the only question that remains is – are you ready to find out for yourselves and get your escape room fix?

You can book your game now or have a browse of the escape room directory to find an escape room near you.