Sunday, January 19, 2020

Saw Did it Better

Hidey-Ho, horror nuts. Welcome to another WTFHM!

This week, I want to talk about the Kroger brand cereal that your mom used to buy. You know, the big bag of Coco Tuffs and Sgt. Crunch that she swore was exactly like the name brand but we all knew really wasn’t.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, good for you. You got to eat the real thing as a child. Apparently, your parents loved you more than the rest of ours did. 

Anyway, no matter how much you tried to fool yourself, it just wasn’t the same thing as good old Captain Crunch and once you got older and got your own job, one of the first things you did was swear to buy only name brand Coco Puffs forever…or at least until you had your own kids.

My point in sharing a little bit of my childhood cereal pain is to say just this: Nothing is as good as the original version of whatever cereal you’re eating. No matter how much milk you put on it, you just can’t improve upon a thing that was done right the first time.

Case in Point:

Escape Room starring Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani, and Yorick van Wageningen.

If you were hoping for a synopsis of this one, I’m sorry, I just can’t. The fact of things is that you’ve probably seen this movie already:

The Cube Series

The Saw Series 

The Circle

The Collector Series

Cabin in the Woods 

Etc and so forth. And much like actual Captain Crunch, you enjoyed those movies way more than the Kroger-brand in a bag stuff.

I guess the best I can do with this one is a How to Make a Puzzle Death Trap movie list. 

#1 – Get yourself a group of strangers

Can’t have a puzzle death trap without four to seven people who don’t know each other. Nothing brings strangers together than being made to solve a puzzle to save their own lives. They can’t like each other though. There’s no room for friendships in these kinds of movies.

#2 – Choose your archetypes

So, you can go a bunch of different ways with this, but the common types tends to consist of these people:

The Brain

In a way, he’s a little like the exposition guy in that his only purpose is to keep everybody on track. He’s the guy who’s done this before or is a certified astrophysicist mathematician or in this case, he’s just a gamer nerd. Most of the time, he’s the final girl in this story (not this time, though. He’s just a magical negro in this movie).  

The A-Hole

There’s one in every single one of these. He’s the guy that’s out for himself and only himself. He uses the other people and generally stirs up crap when everyone’s trying to work together. You'll know him because he usually says things like: "I don't lose" and "This is about survival." 

That being said, Jason (Ellis) wasn't a big enough a-hole for me. Sure, he was a jerk...but he was kind of likable. A real no-no in this scenario. I mean, he's supposed to be as dangerous as the traps themselves by the end of this. Jason's just...well, I didn't have any real desire to punch him in the throat at any given point in this movie.

The One with Issues

This can also be the slut or the drug addict, whatever. Sometimes, there’s even more than one. They’re usually the designated loser of the group that ends up screwing things up in one way or another and gets somebody or everybody killed. 

The Red Shirt

He serves no real purpose. He’s usually dead just when you get to know him. The red shirt in this one lasts a little longer than most, but, well, we don’t know too much about his character when he croaks, so it’s like he dies in the first few minutes anyway.

The Hero

The hero is usually the one wholly likable person in the group IF there is a wholly likable person. This guy(or girl in this case) is the one who keeps it together, saves lives, and typically goes out like a G. (They never manage to make it to the end.) 

The Final Girl

Like just about any horror movie where people die one at a time, there’s always a final girl (sometimes a guy) who manages to make it all the way to the end of the movie. They’re usually an innocent despite whatever evil that put them in this mess in the first place.

# 3 -- Common Thread

There’s always a common theme to whatever put our characters in this mess in the first place, their sins, somebody they’ve all wronged, their birthdays, whatever. They usually don’t figure out what until the beginning of the third act.

Sometimes, though, sometimes we never find out what the common thread is or even who or what put them in the puzzle death trap in the first place (Cube, for instance) and, in my opinion, that’s one of the better plays in a movie like this. Too bad the filmmakers of Escape Room didn’t go that route. I mean, sometimes we don’t need to see the man behind the curtain. 

# 4 – Intricate traps

Whatever traps are in place were clearly designed by geniuses. You have to be a math whiz or some kind of Jeopardy genius if you want any hope of solving the puzzle and getting out alive. It’s the kind of thing that makes you, the viewer, go “What kind of mad genius came up with these things?!”

It’s too bad the writers of Escape Room can’t ever be mistaken for anything like that. It might’ve made for a better movie. Look, I’m not saying I’m the smartest person in the room, but I had most of the puzzles figured out well before any of the characters did. Pretty sure, you all will too. The traps were straight out of Dora the Explorer.

In a few words, this movie was elementary and, that’s another thing. As an honorable mention:

#5 – For the love of God, be scary!!

And if you can’t be scary, be gory. If you can’t be gory, at least be fun. Jeez, this isn’t hard, people. It’s horror, not Shakespeare!

And I’m not the only person with that concern about this movie, clearly.

I mean, if you have to ask...

If this movie had been smart or gory or maybe even interesting maybe it might’ve earned a jewel from me. As it stands, however:

Okay, next week’s movie…well, thanks to a blizzard hitting Michigan this weekend, I didn’t have a chance (or really the willpower) to make it out to get next week’s movie.  Once again, it's going to be a surprise for all of us!

See you next week!


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