Writer: Amiel Bartana, Jacques Kluger (Screenplay) Franck Thilliez (Novel)
Starring: Charley Palmer Rothwell, Rozane Mesquida, Marie Zabukovec, Thomas Mustin, Daphne Huynh
Plot: Welcome to Paranoia, the ultimate escape game. Rule #1: Nothing is real. Rule #2: One of you will die. Lucas and Chloe, two passionate gamers, decide to participate to Paranoia, a very exclusive escape game. After solving a first riddle, they make it to the location of the finale in an abandoned mental hospital, lost in a frightening forest. There, four other participants are waiting on them. They soon realize that only one of them will get out of there alive.
Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Basic Escape Room Film
Story: Play or Die starts as Chloe (Mesquida) returns to the life of Lucas (Rothwell) in an attempt to work together for an ultimate escape room, one that only the smartest people can discover to even have the chance to play in, they do locate this game and are joined with Naomi (Zabukovec), Jablowski (Mustin), Maxine (Huynh) and Ray (Pourcques), learning the strict rules they must play by in Paranoia.
As the game begins, it quickly becomes more deadly that Chloe of Lucas predicted, as the other contestants end up dead, the race to escape is on, leaving it to the pair to figure out the best way out.
Thoughts on Play or Die
Characters – Lucas is the smartest of the players, he ability to crack codes makes him an asset during the game, he is filled with his own grief, which has seen him close off from the world, but a chance to work with Chloe on a game they worked so hard on before brings him out of his shell. Chloe returns to Lucas’ life wanting to get him to complete the game, she has her way to make this possible and the two-start working together for the first time in years. We do have other players in the game, most fill the generic ideas we have seen in these type of films before.
Performances – The performances in the film do struggle to make an impact, we have the social awkward one from Charley Palmer Rothwell, with Roxane Mesquida doing the basics in the ex-girlfriend role. Nobody really stands out in this film, which leaves everything feeling flat.
Story – The story here follows two ex-lovers that agree to take part in an elite escape room, for players too advance for the everyday one, only for the game to turn a lot deadlier. This is another story that dives into the idea of escape rooms having a horror side, even though it ends up playing out more like a Saw movie, without any of the scares, character development or anything being as interesting as it believes it is. This story does feel flat and seems to be more centred around one character, rather than anyone involved in the game, which ends up making things feeling more confusing that interesting.
Horror/Mystery – The horror in this film feels flat, we don’t get any real scares, we get moments that involved torture or just finding a dead body, not even giving us a mystery about how the game works.
Settings – The film is set in one location, which seems to have different problems in each room, ones that could well be the end for players involved in the film.
Scene of the Movie – The teeth scene at least feels horrific.
Final Thoughts – This is a poor escape room-based movie that just ends up feeling flat and tries to hard to shock instead of building a story.
Overall: Flat horror.