This list will comprise of films that evolve around characters being stuck in one location and attempting to get out. Many include puzzles to solve or a mystery to unravel, however most films on this list, (due to the nature of the genre) are based in horror and thrillers. Bearing in mind this is not the theme of all Escape Rooms, most are based on different genres, stories and strategies; this list is just about one element of an escape room- being stuck in a room.
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The list will start with more puzzle based thrillers, leading more into the horror category. Please note this is not a ranking list or a Top 10, these are films that might interest anyone who likes to play escape rooms as although they do not feature an escape room itself they do have this element of escapism within their story.
Most of these films are rated 18 due their content, we will make more lists about less horror based films soon.
LIST: Being stuck in a room
Eight candidates, sixty minutes, sounds like an Escape Room. The candidates are even taking the exam out of their own free will, but why? Is the job that good? Following a set of strict rules the candidates must figure out the answer before the ticking clock reaches zero, but what is the question?
With more puzzles and less horror, Exam is an excellent story of character, human reactions and mystery confined to a room and a company that has more secrecy than the characters themselves. It will leave you guessing till the end.
“Eight candidates for a highly desirable corporate job are locked together in an exam room and given a final test with just one question. It seems simple yet confusing that soon, tensions begin to unravel.”
FERMAT’S ROOM (2007) (la habitation de Fermat)
Four people who are experts in their fields are invited to a party through a set of intriguing riddles. In the hope of resolving a mathematical problem and getting their names in the history books they find their destination together, a room. However the party turns sour when the room starts shrinking, they must answer the riddles to survive or be crushed in defeat.
Fermat’s Room is a foreign made film with subtitles and has a great concept. Some mathematical terms might fly over the head but the story is simple to follow and the tension is high. Full of riddles and suspense, you will be watching till the end just to see how small this room will get.
“Four mathematicians who do not know each other are invited by a mysterious host on the pretext of resolving a great enigma. The room in which they find themselves turns out to be a shrinking room that will crush them if they do not discover in time what connects them all and why someone might wish to murder them.”
PANIC ROOM (2002)
After moving to a new house, a mother and daughter must use the panic room when their house is broken into. Thrilling action sequences and tense scenes as the mother must find a way to get help and save her daughter.
This film has fewer puzzles and more real life problem solving which keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering how they are going to get out of this one.
“A divorced woman and her diabetic daughter take refuge in their newly-purchased house's safe room, when three men break-in, searching for a missing fortune.”
Infinity Chamber (2016)
One person in one room and one all seeing computer. Can the automated computer system designed to keep him contained be outsmarted? We see flashbacks of this man’s life, why is he in prison? Why is he here? All questions will be revealed as he starts to decode the computer and how it operates. The biggest mystery is why this man is here, is he innocent or guilty. The puzzle is how will he survive?
“A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.”
Phone Booth (2002)
This movie is an honourable mention in this list as Colin Farrell is stuck in a phone booth and not a room. With a gun pointed at his head he must follow the instructions of the gunman or risk being killed in the middle of the street. Most of the puzzle and tension comes from the fact he is stuck in plain sight but cannot move from this small box.
“Stuart Shepard finds himself trapped in a phone booth, pinned down by an extortionist's sniper rifle.”
6 people wake up in, well... in a cube, but this is no ordinary cube. Their memories are lost, how did they get there and why are they there? They must find a way to survive and solve the cube together. Cube has more gore than others in this list (as discovered in the first 2 minutes watching) and the random fatal traps keep the tension high. Or are they random traps at all?
A great story of survival with some puzzle twists that brought 2 more cube films to the franchise, with cube 3 returning to the roots of the first film to answer some of those burning questions you will have after watching the first time.
“6 complete strangers of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in an endless maze containing deadly traps.”
House of 9 (2005)
As the title suggests, 9 strangers are place in a house with no way out. Controlled by an unseen voice they must obey the instructions or they will all die. With the promise of food, water and money for compliance, the stakes start to get high when people will do anything to survive.
“Nine strangers, with no apparent connection between them are abducted: drugged, kidnapped and sealed in a house together.”
Breathing Room (2008)
Waking up in a room of strangers, tagged with numbers, everyone must work together to solve the mystery of how they got there and how to escape. Hidden clues reveal more about each stranger, can they trust anyone with the plan to escape. An overseeing voice pushes up the tension as there will only be a few survivors; if they don’t kill each other they will all be killed together.
“Thrown into a desolate room with thirteen strangers, Tonya discovers that she is the final contestant in a deadly game.”
The Killing Room (2009)
Following a psychiatrist in her new job we witness what the government will go to find out what human beings will go to for survival. With challenges set by a time limit the contestants of this cruel experiment must execute each other or face the consequences of the room. Will the psychiatrist allow the experiment to continue, is it worth all this brutal sacrifice.
“Four individuals sign up for a psychological research study only to discover that they are now subjects of a brutal, classified government program.”
The film that is the most referenced when talking about escape rooms. Two men are locked into a room chained to the wall. They must play the serial killer’s game and solve the puzzles to survive, but what will it cost them. The concept and story of this first film started the Saw franchise with many sequels and are still making films 14 years later.
The game’s puzzles are cruel and unusual, involving a lot of blood and gore, however the biggest puzzle is the serial killer himself.
“Two strangers, who awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there, soon discover they're pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.”
We will be making more lists about films which involve elements of escape rooms, including puzzles, themes and escape rooms themselves. If you have any suggestions for other films please let us know.
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