No Escape Room Explained-What Happens To Karen And Michael?
No Escape Room is an ambiguous chiller that leaves you with more questions than answers. Here’s everything you need to know.
2018’s No Escape Room is just one of many escape room horror movies in the last couple of years. Some are better than others. There are the slick and stylish gory ones like Escape Room, the 80s throwbacks like Hell Fest, and the sudsy Ruin Me from Shudder that is full of potential but lacking in overall execution. No Escape Room is one of the better ones because the paid attraction is just the catalyst for the spookiness that happens later. More supernatural mind-bender than bloodfest, this film still employs plenty of gross gags to keep you on edge. The best plot beats come from imaginative writing, though, that leans heavier into the mystery than the violence.
Michael(Mark Ghanimé) and Karen(Jeni Ross) are a father and daughter whose car broke down. They aren’t on the best of terms, but Dad is determined to make their weekend fun regardless of the sullen teenager sitting next to him. While waiting for their car to be fixed, they eat at a diner and find an Escape Room ad in town. They decide to go, and Karen goes to the restroom before leaving. While in there, she hears a strange noise, and the lights flicker. This is important later.
After arriving at the house, they are escorted into a room by Josie, and they meet the three other people who signed up for the fun. Andrew(Dennis Andres), who is alone, and couple Melanie(Kathryn Davis) and Tyler(Hamza Haq). All five are shown a film to set the mood, asked to drink a steaming concoction, and given a contract to sign. Finally, they are given a safe word if things get too intense and ominously told, they must escape within the allotted time or risk being stuck there forever by the Inventor. He wanted to speak to the dead and used Ayahuasca and lots of gadgets to do so. Following that same thread, the five players are probably already dead, and the Inventor uses his tools to talk to them and everyone else who enters the house, including Josie.
What is with the loops In No Escape House?
Immediately the five players begin trying to find clues and solve some riddles quickly. When Tyler puts on one of the masks and sees his hand crawling with worms under the skin, it is obvious they are already in trouble. There are hints that the group is already doomed. In theory, at least two of them are already dead. We don’t see what happens to Andrew besides being dragged away by some unseen force, but I’m assuming it isn’t good. Michael and Karen are still alive but confined to the game, and Tyler and Melanie are dead and stuck in their respective loops.
Melanie hears herself on the phone in the beginning. Her future self tells her past self she doesn’t understand everything, but she knows enough to ask to speak to Tyler and apologize. Future Melanie tells past Tyler to run, but it is already too late. Tyler finds worms on the phone and yells “awake,” hoping to end the game. Melanie later finds Tyler hanging. He did not leave the house. Melanie finds herself in a small closed loop where she is confined to a room. She answers the phone call to her past self, and we see the event play out in both timelines. Melanie tries to climb out of the room on a ladder after finding Tyler dead and falls, impaling herself.
Josie is stuck playing out her role as guide and later victim. She pops up in the back of a closet after Tyler leaves. She has been stabbed and warns everyone the Inventor is here, and they must find the master key. Josie is likely one of the Inventor’s first victims. Karen and Michael’s loop is much larger and includes the time spent in the diner. She does become aware of the loops and speculates that they are echos of things that have already happened. More on this later.
The painting and the Inventor.
Michael finds himself trapped in a painting at one point in the film. He sees a painting of a tree on the wall, and as he stares at it, the wall falls away. He finds himself in the same landscape. There is a young woman in a stream walking towards him and as she begins to kiss him, he discovers chains on his arms and neck. Shortly before being ripped apart by the chains attached to cogs in the water, he falls back into the house. The painting has now changed, and he is in it. Michael entered the water in the picture because he is covered in water and muck.
Unlike Dorian Gray’s painting, this one did not keep him youthful and healthy but killed him. He just doesn’t know it yet. We never meet the inventor but see shadows that could be past victims, experiments, or the infamous Inventor. Less is more in this case and what we don’t see is scarier than what we do.
What happens at the end of No Escape House?
Despite finding the master key buried in Josie’s stomach and seemingly escaping back to the diner restroom, Karen and Michael find themselves locked inside a new room. They opened the door to the house and walked back into the same bathroom Karen was in at the beginning of the movie. Karen from the future watched her past self try to wash her sweater sleeve and put on her Dad’s necklace. At the beginning of the film, the noise Karen hears is her future self dropping a quarter on the floor. The waitress exiting the stall distracts past Karen from realizing future Karen was in there.
The father/daughter team leaves the diner and sees their car in the parking lot. A note indicates the keys are in the car, and it is fixed. They get into the car thinking they have escaped but can’t find the key and realize they are locked inside a glove compartment box that is also locked. The keyhole for the ignition key to fit in is a skeleton key, not a car key shape that informs them both they are still caught in the house’s loop.
Do Karen and Michael escape?
Karen and Michael do not escape in the film. They are stuck in a larger loop than Tyler and Melanie. Their loop extends all the way back to the diner. Melanie walked through the same room repeatedly before dying, and Tyler kept yelling “awake” before hanging himself in the room that Melanie and later Michael find him in. The assumption is Michael and Karen’s loop runs from when they decide to go to the escape room clear through the present as they now try to locate the car keys. It is possible; their loop extends even further back to when the car broke down, though. They will never escape. The house and the inventor have rigged the game. The only way out is death. Even then, however, as Tyler’s suicide points out, you will still keep repeating the moments leading up to your demise.
No Escape Room is a surprisingly smart addition to the escape room subgenre, particularly when you consider it is a SYFY movie. It is creepy and weird with well-timed jump scares and quality acting, especially from Jeni Ross(Karen) and Hamza Haq. Haq, in particular, is believably annoyed and then terrified in his short screen time. If you are looking for something to make you think twice about signing that waiver at the zombie escape room near you, NO Escape Room should do the trick. It’s on Netflix now.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.