Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (sequel to the 2019 psychological horror film) is now available to pick up on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital, so in recognition of its release – we're breaking down the heightened intensity of this second chapter.
Molding itself as a more survivable Saw film, the first Escape Room film capitalized on a growing trend and found a market for survival/trap-based horrors. Within the genre, we've seen the gratuitous gore of the Saw world, character-driven short stories in anime like Danganronpa, and in Escape Room, it displayed potential to achieve those same successes – but in their own respective way.
The film is certainly full of ups and downs for the assortment of characters, but overall there are a few things that make Escape Room: Tournament of Champions worthwhile.
A Very Different Conclusion
Typically speaking, a film that earns an alternate ending is something just barely changed. It can include extended scenes, or in some cases, a slightly different outcome, but Escape Room: Tournament of Champions has two completely different endings for your viewing pleasure.
Without getting too spoilery, there are two options to choose from on the home release of the Escape Room sequel that appeases fans of the first, or conversely, those looking to expand their knowledge on the game. The theatrical version brings back a familiar face and an added twist about the state of the game, which can be a point of contention for people depending on one's feelings regarding death misdirects.
While I personally enjoyed the very final moments of the theatrical release, the alternate ending organically shed light on other storylines introduced. In both cuts, the name (and character) Sonya is a recurring element within the film, and via the extended edit – we learn a lot about her importance. Giving both a new introduction and a changed ending ditches the aforementioned cameo in favor of setting up a much larger world for the franchise to grow into.
Whether it will receive another film remains to be seen, but this pivot for the film gives us a much better idea about the current state of the escape room and those responsible.
The Stakes Feel a Little Higher
For the most part, the reception for Escape Room: Tournament of Champions hasn't been recognized as being an equal body of work to the first film – however, I'm going to take a different stance and say that in several ways, it's actually superior.
With a concept like a tournament of champions, we're getting to see elite escape room survivors work together with one shared goal. Everything is so new and unknown in the first film that it takes people time to adapt, but the sequel skips that idea in favor of increased intensity.
From the first room, everyone gets on the same page (another refreshing choice considering there's always a selfish character), and you begin to actually become a little invested in who might be able to pull through in the end. That doesn't mean that there aren't some unfortunate hiccups along the way with missed potential; however, the unwilling participants are a lot more adaptable than those in the first.
It has almost become so formulaic for these Saw-Esque trap films to integrate a betrayal (whether predictable or not), but in this batch of characters, there's this unspoken survivors' decency that creates comradery between the former winners—getting to see that unexpected shift in unity against a larger threat gives a little more weight to each action taken.
A Fun (And Ridiculous) Ride
One thing that people might not enjoy about Escape Room: Tournament of Champions could also be a selling point for some – and that's the ridiculous chaotic energy that comes with the film.
For starters, the puzzles that the group of winners finds themselves solving feel a lot more unpredictable. The need to solve is pretty relentless, which can seem realistically unsolvable; however, it does make the film feel easier to become drawn to.
On multiple occasions, the transition between these puzzles and riddles is enough to keep you invested in the outcomes from start to finish (no matter how strange). In Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, the consistency of overcoming challenges feels like it keeps the entire cast in an over-emotional state, and even though sometimes distracting, it successfully fleshes out the traps more than many of the Saw entries.
Considering that the sequel enlists the two former survivors, their journies once again are guaranteed to enjoy a little outlandishness – but no matter how off-the-wall it gets, it's easy to find a soft spot for this campy survival romp.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digitally, so check it out for behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the director, and nearly 30 minutes of content unseen in the theatrical release.