Escape Room 2019. I am suspicious. I have a theory.
Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions (or Escape Room 2021) is coming to streaming this week and with it, there’s an extended cut being offered as well. It includes 25 additional minutes not seen in the theatrical release earlier this Summer! What’s particularly exciting about it is that the additional time explores more of the backstory surrounding Minos, the faceless corporation designing these elaborate escape rooms!
Just like the great “a-ha” moments in our own escape rooms, I think the Escape Room movie series is setting all of us up for a really big surprise on the order of Sixth Sense, Se7en, or even Usual Suspects.
Read on if you want to learn more on this movie theory. But, just like a lot of movie theories, take heed that you won’t be able to watch the first movie in the same way once you learn what I have to say.
This article contains spoilers
In the interest of full transparency, I’ve only seen the first installment of Escape Room 2019 and the trailer for Escape Room 2021 from this past Summer. It’s possible that my movie theory already has holes based on whatever is in the theatrical release of Escape Room 2021. But movie theories can be fun, so let’s begin!
The movie theory
Minos is the faceless corporation that designs deadly escape rooms for the entertainment of their gambling clients. Each of their rooms has a series of cameras watching the players, and presumably, both the game master and gamblers can watch the action unfold.
So, what would Minos do if the players decide not to participate? For example, in the 8-ball room, all the players could indefinitely sit on the upper platform. And what if the players decided to just stay warm inside the cabin? Sure, maybe the GM has some ability to trigger a catalyst in the room, but that’s not how it seemed as played out in the movie. Instead, Minos would need a plant – someone to ensure that the players continue with the game.
So, that leads us to the six players. Assuming that the players who died are really dead, that leaves Zoey and Ben. I think the inside person is Ben. And, I’ll tell you why…
Although the movie director is making us viewers think one thing about Ben, some of his lines and actions are too coincidental and likely correlate to someone with just a bit too much knowledge for a player.
Here’s a list of all the moments in the movie that just don’t feel quite right. The time codes are from Amazon Prime video and refer to when the offending clip starts. I’ll be the first to admit that some of my comments below can be perceived as “reading too much into the theory”, so I’ve boldfaced the ones that I feel hold the most weight to support my theory.
Before the rooms
- 00:07:23 – Mr. Miyagi reference “man who catch fly with chopstick, accomplish anything” introduces the backstory for Ben. This may refer to Ben trapping others or, if the theory is not accurate, being trapped instead.
- 00:07:55 – The grocer manager tells Ben that putting him out front would be bad for business. This may refer to a “mole” being more effective undercover or behind-the-scenes.
- 00:14:25 – This is the scene where Amanda meets Ben out in the parking lot of the escape room building. Amanda makes a reference to the building, then later in the scene, Ben says “I know, it will kill me”. Amanda (and the audience) presume Ben is referring to his cigarette, but if the theory is true, then Ben may be referring to the building that he knows is filled with death traps.
- 00:17:17 – Ben enters the waiting area and exclaims “this is gonna suck”. He may be referring to the people he sees, or he knows what is coming and how that sucks. If this is true, then Ben’s connection to Minos may be one of blackmail into being the mole.
- 00:19:45 – Ben effectively starts the game by pulling the handle off the lobby door. Take note how he does not try to twist the handle, as most people would. It’s like he knows that the handle will come off.
- 00:24:00 – Ben advances the fire trap by pulling the fire extinguisher off the wall.
- 00:32:25 – The ceiling flames start and Ben realizes that he has more liquid in his flask to use for the coaster puzzle.
- 00:32:47 – Ben solves the coaster puzzle and leaves Danny. Danny may have been intended to die in the fire lounge, but makes it out barely.
- 00:36:27 – There’s another movie theory that each of the escape rooms are intended to correspond to each of the players. But it doesn’t seem to hold water for everyone but Ben. Specifically, in the cabin room, the answer to the puzzle just happens to be related to Ben’s backstory. You may want to argue that Zoey’s quantum zeno effect came into play in the hospital room, but that logic could have applied to any rooms since they all have cameras; whereas, Rudolph had to be used as an answer in the cabin room and only the cabin room.
- 00:45:43 – Ben slides his lighter to the other players on the clear other side of the room, but the lighter only makes it halfway. This is where the ice breaks under Danny and ultimately leads to his death, so did Ben intentionally slide the lighter to the halfway point? Did he know that the ice would be weak there?
- 00:47:47 – The players start to get angry with Ben. Ben makes a comment – “I was just being an asshole” and “Are you saying that I did it?” at which point Jason responds – “Your words, not mine”. Amanda and Mike also elude to Ben possibly being the “Games Master”. Again, all this quarreling feels more wrapped in pure anger and shock rather than actual substantiated conjecture. But, how much of a face palm would it be if we did learn that Ben is actually behind it all and that the answer was given to us halfway into the first movie?
8-ball bar room
- 00:52:41 – The 8-ball room is actually a giant elevator. The players suspect this and Ben confirms it.
- 00:53:41 – Upon Mike first answering the red phone, Ben exclaims “we’re going to die to elevator music”.
- 00:54:12 – Ben prevents Mike from falling through the first floor piece early in the room. He may have done this to ensure that there was something to watch for the gamblers.
- 01:03:09 – Ben comes back to the 8-ball room to bring Zoey into the hospital room so Zoey does not get left behind. After all, she’s a player and the gamblers want to see her play too.
- 01:10:05 – It is convenient that Ben knows sign language and can translate the X-Rays that spell EKG. His explanation is suspiciously brief and overlooked by the other players.
- 01:16:42 – Ben calls out Jason’s backstory and passively accuses him of killing his friend. This primes the anger in Jason to make the warped room an interesting fight for the spectators.
- 01:17:45 – In order to put Jason at risk and make things exciting for the spectators, Ben needs Jason to touch the hatch. If Ben is connected to Minos, he would know that the hatch is laced with a hallucinogen, so he feigns weakness to get Jason to touch the laced hatch also.
- 01:19:20 – Ben suspiciously finds the antidote quickly.
- 00:01:50 – Of all the books and papers in this library-ish room, Ben hones in on a random piece of paper that says “Follow the Light to… Greener Pastures”. How does Ben know that’s a clue? This whole scene feels like he is acting it out for an audience. Maybe he is? I mean, why touch any sort of mechanism without analyzing the room first? Most of the previous rooms were triggered by a player actively doing something, so if you’re a true player, you’d probably have learned your lesson by now.
- 01:22:21 – Neither now nor in the beginning of the movie, there is nothing that clearly points to hiding in the fireplace. How would Ben know this is the exit?
After the rooms
- * 01:30:56 – If Ben thinks Zoey is on to Minos, then Ben may think that Zoey is on to him. Thus, Ben tries to dissuade her from pursuing further investigation. Upon realizing that’s a fool’s goal, he joins Zoey to keep an eye on her.
Tournament of Champions Trailer
If you haven’t yet watched the trailer, do so now.
At 44 seconds in, Ben says “What is this? A tournament of champions?!” Yea, he knows. It’s like he is the referee.
Remember, I haven’t seen Escape Room 2021 yet. But, my gut says that Ben “survives” again (along with Zoey). I think that the movie director tries to make us viewers think that Ben dies in Escape Room 2021, but that’s the same thing that happened in the first movie trailer. Look at these screenshots – one from Escape Room 2019 and the other from Escape Room 2021. Remember these?
Of course, I could be so wrong on everything here. But, it’s really intriguing to watch through with the understanding that Ben could be linked to Minos.