“‘Escape Room’ and the Comfort of a Predictable Formula”

I generally avoid describing movies as “formulaic”*, except as a matter of fact; I neither consider formula a positive nor a negative. Formulas have their place. Good movies rely on formula. Bad movies rely on formula. Movies in between the two, the movies that comprise the majority of the bricks in the cinematic pyramid, also rely on formula. Formula is rarely if ever a problem. Creativity and general competence, now, those are problems.

Escape Room is a unique instance where formula both works for the movie as well as against it; following the structural formula laid out by movies like Cube drags the film down into the mud, but following the puzzle formula laid out by the same movies gives it oomph during its, well, its escape room sequences. Major mixed bag! It’s not a good movie, but it’s a suitable enough diversion during its best bits.

You can read my full breakdown of formula in horror movies over at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Heat Vision blog.

*As far as I know! I’m not about to go through my history of writing to cite all the times I may or may not have used the word “formula” in either positive or negative capacities. Take this as my proclamation of avoiding that pitfall going forward from here.


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