A door swings open with a creak, but there is nobody standing behind it. Traces of blood in an abandoned shower room. Stuffed animals in old-fashioned rooms with fireplaces and faded wallpaper, where a fine mist hangs in the air. These scenes, which recall the setting of a horror movie, were recorded in an ›Escape Room‹: a locked room which a group of people tries to escape by solving puzzles within a set period of time, usually around an hour. The game, carried out under constant camera observation, has recently spread to Europe, where it has become a popular leisure pursuit, especially as among businesses, who use it as a team building exercise. The rooms are uninhabited, but they seem to have a life of their own, even to breathe; lamps flicker, and beams of light whose source cannot be identified sway back and forth rhythmically. A tense, threatening atmosphere takes hold. Liberation has been reduced to a pastime lived out in a microcosmic world modelled on tired movie clichés. The threat has to seem real while nonetheless being based on familiar tropes – even in a scenario like this, we want to feel we are still in control. The escape from the murky rooms, whose narrative form derives from familiar media like horror films and computer games, becomes a game. Played out on a stage designed to suit our expectations, heaping cliché upon cliché, the experience can only be a disappointment.At the end of the game, the participants emerge through a secret door to their freedom; the last to leave shrugs his shoulders in disappointment. The film ends here, in a moment as anticlimactic as the game itself. (Tamara Plempe)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist and Stichting Lumiére Cinema.