ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you [still] love horror movies.
Avoid if… the Purge made you want to, well, purge, or if you are afraid of the dark.
Laurel’s House of Horrors:
Address: 935 Fairlawn Ave, Laurel, MD 20707 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 240-278-4545
The Room – Escape the Movies, Revision 3:
Description (from the company website): “Escape the Movies” is all-new in 2017, with revamped puzzles and features. You and a group will experience four distinctive rooms, with iconic scenes from your favorite record-breaking horror films, including Halloween (Michael Myers), Purge, Saw, and The Conjuring 2. Solve intricate puzzles and race the clock to escape. Your limits will be tested in an attempt to truly Escape the Movies… or become our next victims trapped inside the haunted theater!
Difficulty (1-10): not listed
Time Limit: 45 minutes
Cost: $25 per person
Party Size: Up to 8.
Staging Area: It’s in an old movie theater that is supposedly haunted, so pretty damn creepy.
Metro Access/Parking: Not metro accessible at all. The theater is in a strip mall so there is plenty of parking.
This is the video we took before we entered the room:
This is the video we took just after we completed the room:
Description of the room: The theater didn’t look as creep-tastic as it did last time, but they still do a yearly haunted house.
The rooms were just as well done as they were last year, probably even better this year. The themes were more clear than last year too. Made no mistake about which movie was which. (And no, you don’t need to have seen the movies to get through, which is good.)
Understanding of the Mission: Make your way through the 4 movie themed rooms with (or without, if you’re a dick to the GM) help from the GM. All you need to do is escape. With your life.
Did We Escape: By the skin of our teeth (again)
Time Remaining: 2. Freaking. Seconds. [You’re welcome! ~Jason]
Our Suggested Party Size: 6 was prefect, but there was room for 2 more.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes (omg yes…)
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Mark, Katheryn, Eric
Worth the time and money? Yes
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: We aren’t familiar with Laurel, but there’s a Five Guys 2 blocks away.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|After doing this one last year, we thought it would be a generally safe idea to come back when we heard they had revamped this room. As it turns out, the version we escaped last year was actually the second version of that room, hence the R3 indicator above.
Honestly, I couldn’t remember much of the one from last year, and by the time we got there and the 5Guys burger-and-fries-coma set in, I couldn’t even remember what the 4 movies of this version were. But, I was looking forward to seeing what kind of freaky shit would be in this one. Remember the bloody bathtub…?
|Although this location is a bit further away than we like to do for an Escape Room, we had the brilliant idea to make the trek and do three of their rooms in one day.
We had done their second round of Escape the Movies, where the movies related to Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Insidious and Saw (and I will take full credit for us getting out of that room based on what I had to do to retrieve the last key – see the review here).
It was a really good room, and we had 45 seconds remaining, so we thought that we’d do the next iteration and see how we did.
TWO. FREAKING. SECONDS. We escaped by the skin of our teeth, which all had us amped and breathless in the final moments.
|We watched a video before we entered the room, as we did for 2 of the other rooms we did (of the 4 that they have). It didn’t tell much in way of story, but gave the background on what movies we’d be going through (Halloween (again), The Purge, Saw, and finally, The Conjuring 2).
What really made the room, IMO, was our GM, but I’ll get more into that later.
|This place is in an old, supposedly-haunted movie theater, so it’s only appropriate that we watched a video for two of the four that we did that day. There is not much to the backstory that we’re told as to WHY we’re suddenly outside of Michael Myers’ childhood home, but the description on the website gives a detailed description of the experience. Unfortunately, though, I’m going to have to rate this down because it’s the story that puts you into the experience and a website description is a bit lacking.
|Progress through rooms of increasing difficulty until you make your way to an oddly creepy room from The Conjuring 2. Your objective: GTFO.
(Not really sure why I thought that was the creepiest of the 4 movies, but I think you’ll get the idea when you see it.)
|Move through the four rooms based on four different horror movies, solve the puzzles and escape the final room before time runs out.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|There were some really good ideas here. I can imagine a lot of groups not even getting through the first one (Michael Myers’ home) because it looks like there’s nothing there, but if you know where to look, it’s super simple. (And of course, I knew where to look. Some of the best answers are hidden in plain sight, my friends!)
As you make it through the rooms, yes the puzzles get harder, but they also got more obvious. HOW THE HELL DID YOU GUYS DO THAT??? Impressive. But another location where you really have to thoroughly search the rooms.
Additionally, the puzzles were a little bit of everything. Logic, deciphering, hell, even counting.
|As you progress through the rooms, the rooms get exceedingly more diverse in the types of puzzles you have to decipher and the locks you have to open. There is a lot of reliance on combo locks, but the puzzles are pretty awesome.
I do love the fact that at one point a teammate is captured and taken away from your group briefly – this is not a spoiler because they tell you this when you go into the room. This is, I believe the first time we’ve seen this, and you have to work to reunite with your friend.
One thing I didn’t like as much is the time spent on studying the detail in one part of the experience (The Purge room). Reliance on a split second requirement of attention to detail is a bit frustrating, but perhaps that is an intended part of their design because it did stump us for longer than it should have.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|Here’s the funny thing. As I said, I can picture some groups not even getting off of Mr. Myers’ lawn, but that’s not to say the puzzles were all that hard! We got stuck on a few stupid things, things that our seasoned veteran eyes should have picked up on. (Too many cooks in the kitchen perhaps? Who knows. Well, ok, that’s kind of a lie, but you get where I’m going with this.)
I will tell you, however, that the Purge room was the hardest one (IMO). Oh, one additional tip (*Spoiler Alert*): DON’T TURN OFF THE FUCKING TV!!!
|So, the puzzles themselves were well done and not overly complex. We just overthought the rooms, which is brilliant in the design… show them something simple, put the GM in the rooms (or around them) to provide a level of distraction, and let them overthink the obvious. We fell prey to this twice. Because this section is for rating complexity, I’m going to give it an average score, but I’ll add the points to the flow/cohesiveness section (below).
|The rooms themselves were, as you can imagine, all different, but definitely increased in difficulty. I’m not even going to mention what happened as we were going from Michael Myers’ to The Purge. You’ll have to see that for yourself (or not, as I completely missed it). Definitely threw us for a loop (though I think we were warned about it before going in; I don’t remember).
These rooms were all pretty memorable, too. I remember at least one crazy thing per room, which is good, considering my memory.
|In a movie theater (and in a location that is famous for its haunted house – we heard that they even partner with Markhoff’s Haunted Forest in some of the actors), I did expect the rooms to be pretty well designed and decorated, and they did NOT disappoint. The Conjuring 2 room was pretty freakin’ trippy and creepy.
The design that I talked about above is pretty brilliant. The first room (Halloween) is well done scene-wise, but looks deceivingly simple. We’re lucky that we’ve seen a lot of rooms and clues and puzzles, so we were able to get out of it pretty quickly based on using our collective experience.
|I think my favorite part of this room was the GM and the cheap pops he was getting on us in there. Definitely a unique experience from this location. It adds a surprising amount and just makes it different. They still allot clues, but if he’s feeling good about you (or bad; don’t piss him off) it’s really at his whim.||Heart-pounding is a phrase I’d use to describe my experience in the room… whether it be from short frights, to anxiousness that we were wasting too much time, to the final moments where we thought we were going to fail (thanks, Jason, for the last-second save).
It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it for horror movie buffs.
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Ok, so as I said, Bert really made this experience I think. From following us around (resetting the previous rooms as we move through) to fucking with us in the rooms (and talking to us through the walkie), he can really make or break the room for you. Here’s a tip: Be nice to him. We were joking with him throughout and he ended up helping us a little (for free). But god forbid you tell someone to use the light on their cell phone… (Don’t do that.)||Our GM, Bert, was phenomenal. He walked through the rooms with us and stepped in with some help, or added some distraction, to help amp up the experience of the room. You’re told that if you are nice to your Game Master, maybe he’ll throw you a bit of help for free (you’re limited to three clues) to just nudge you in the right direction. He is an imposing figure and dressed in robes, so he kinda blends in with the environment until he pops out at you.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|The point of a clue is to poke and prod you toward the solution without blatantly giving you said solution. He was good with this and helped properly.||He did a great job with the nudges in the right direction, and was even a bit sarcastic in his advice (so make sure you have some ladies with you).|
|Anger Level Score||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|Only 1 fist, because we almost didn’t make it. But again, YOU’RE WELCOME TEAM DISTURBED FRIENDS. Wouldn’t have made it out without my quick thinking. 😀
Rating: ? Fists – 1/5
|We stupidly overthought a few things, so I’ll give this
Rating: ?♂️ ?♂️ ?♂️ FacePalms – 3/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 6.7/10
Final Thought: Again, this overall score is a bit lower than the overall experience of the room primarily because of the story and mission sections. We would recommend Laurel create a bit of a backstory to help pull the people into the experience and weave the mission into it (for example: to get out of the experience, you need to solve the mystery of the Conjuring 2 room, unlock the door and walk through it to escape the supernatural realm back to normal reality).