The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

  • Charley Palmer RothwellMarie Zabukovec...
  • HorrorMystery & Suspense
  • Jacques Kluger
reviewed by
Yasmeen Mamdouh
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Play or Die: Escape Room Meets Saw

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Escape rooms have become such a popular activity that even filmmakers created Escape Room; a horror that’s based on the very concept, but, of course, with a terrifying twist. Play or Die explores what happens when Escape Room meets Saw.

Play or Die follows Lucas (Charley Palmer Rothwell) and Chloe (Roxane Mesquida) who play a mysterious escape game named Paranoia. Soon they discover that the game takes place in an abandoned mental hospital with four other contestants, all hoping to be the first to win. Now Lucas and Chloe have to go around solving one riddle after another in order to find their way out, but what they didn’t know is that it’s more than just a game.

Not as bloody or as violent as the Saw franchise, the film, nevertheless, includes a couple of disturbing torture scenes. However, it doesn’t employ the suspenseful aspect of being in an abandoned mental hospital with something on the loose and out to get you. A whistling sound before the thing strikes was the only touch that added some anticipation, yet, as a tool, it was mostly neglected.

The pace of the plot starts out slow, but once the two characters reach the mental hospital, it is steadily fearful with some minor lingering. However, an instance among others, where Lucas and Chloe stopped to have an expositional dialogue in the middle of the mayhem, seemed illogical and misplaced.

Where the film comes together is the last sequence, with a big reveal, a twist, and a shock that leaves you thinking more about it rather than about the entire film itself.

For the acting, Charley Palmer Rothwell’s performance started out rocky with mostly underplayed scenes. He stood out in an electric chair scene in the film’s second act, as well as for the most of the entire third act of the feature. Roxane Mesquida’s performance was more stable with plausibility to her character, but she missed a chance to make audience suspicious of her character.

Play or Die’s saving grace from mediocrity is its last sequence, but other than that it is a momentary entertainment for violent-horror fans, or fans of the genre in general.

Like This? Try

Saw (2004), Insidious (2010), and Dolls (2019).

360 Tip

Roxane Mesquida never took acting classes.

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