Escape rooms have become such a common part of mainstream media these days that it should come as no surprise that there have been several television shows and movies that have included them. Then, there are entire films that are based around the premise of an escape room, though the consequences are typically much direr than they are in real life.
Most of the films that pertain to escape rooms are recent, but there are also a few that date back to the 1990s. Let’s take a look at five of the best films that have at least some element of having an escape room, how they fared at the box office, and why they’re worth your time if you’re an escape room fan.
Of course, escape room fans would have to check out a film that’s called “Escape Room”, but you have to be careful about which one you’re getting. There are some that are not-so-great, and that includes the 2018 film that was released exclusively on Redbox. The superior “Escape Room” movie was released the following year and stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, and Deborah Ann Woll.
When the film was in development, it was known as “The Maze”, but changed to “Escape Room” before being released and even warranted a sequel called “Tournament of Champions”. In this movie, six participants must get through a series of escape rooms after thinking that they’ve won a competition by solving a puzzle cube. Chaos ensues and it makes for an amazing watching experience. “Escape Room” cost just $9 million to make but ended up grossing over $155 million at the box office.
You can essentially close your eyes and throw a dart at a board that has all of the “Saw” movies listed if you want a film with an escape room premise. For now, though, we’ll stick with suggesting the original “Saw” movie starring Cary Elwes. Tobin Bell plays Jigsaw, the killer who places his victims into nearly impossible (and deadly) escape rooms to teach them a lesson if they survive.
The film had a lot of twists and turns at the end, which we won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it. “Saw” was one of the biggest surprise hits in cinematic history, grossing well over $100 million despite having just a $1 million budget. Within a year, a second “Saw” was released, launching an all-new horror franchise.
There aren’t too many big British movies these days, but one of the best psychological thrillers with an escape room element is “Exam”, which was released in 2009. Directed by Stuart Hazeldine, “Exam” stars Adar Beck, Gemma Chan, and Nathalie Cox. The film centers around a group of eight people who think they are taking an employment assessment, but find out that the paper is blank.
It becomes an escape room of sorts as they have to figure out the question asked on the assessment if they want to leave with their lives. There’s a massive twist (that we won’t spoil), and it’s certain to leave you on the edge of your seat. “Exam” wasn’t a hit at the box office, making less than $400,000 on a $600,000 budget. Still, it developed a cult following in the years after.
Released in 1997, “Cube” came many years before anyone knew what an escape room was. This Canadian film was independently released and only had a budget of $350,000 but ended up making nearly $9 million at the box office. Many also felt that this movie was a precursor to the “Saw” series, especially as it has horror elements.
There are thousands of puzzles within the cube, and the main cast has to try their best to figure each one out to save their lives. Vincenzo Natali directed the original “Cube”, which has been remade in Japan and has had several talks about an American remake. Still, the original holds up just fine for escape room fans.
No Escape (Follow Me)
Also known by its alternate title “Follow Me”, “No Escape was released in 2020 under director Will Wernick. Keegan Allen, Holland Roden, and Denzel Whitaker star in this horror film that takes an internet influencer, his girlfriend, and his friends, and puts them into a deadly escape room in Russia that they thought was harmless.
Things aren’t all that they seem, though, as Allen’s character (Cole Turner) goes for a wild ride in front of a live stream audience of millions. While the film didn’t receive great reviews, it was still considered a cult hit and made a few million worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic on a small budget.