This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Video: Skeet Ulrich Stars In Horror Movie About A Cursed L.A. Escape Room
Finally, there's a horror movie that explores what might happen if you were locked in an escape room with a deranged killer for real. Oh, and it stars Skeet Ulrich. Skeet Ulrich—who you may remember from Scream, The Craft and post-Apocalyptic TV show Jericho—is coming out with a new film called Escape Room. The film is directed by Peter Dukes, who has directed a number of horror shorts, and is slated to come out around Halloween of this year.
The film is set in Los Angeles. A group of four friends decide to play an escape room, which Ulrich owns. Escape rooms, if you're unfamiliar with the concept, are puzzle games similar to point-and-click adventure video games, but played in real life. You'll be 'locked' in a room and tasked with finding objects, solving riddles and puzzles, and putting together clues in order to get back out. Because we have fire codes, you're never really locked in an escape room and even those that have scary themes—The Basement and Captured LA, for instance—are both fun and safe. You typically have one hour to get out, and if you fail, they just let you out and you're free to go.
In this particular film, however, that's not the case. Ulrich is looking to get better reviews on his escape room as others are popping up all over town and he can't seem to get any press. If you're a fan of escape rooms, you'll have noticed that while there were about a half-dozen or so back in December of 2014, there are now a total of at least 30 companies, many with multiple rooms and themes. In fact, the old Geisha House is soon to become Escape Hotel, which will feature ten different rooms. And rooms have been upping their games consistently, with some like The Virus in Burbank incorporating virtual reality, while companies like Escape Key offer clever technology for magical effects. Looking to do the same for his room in the film, Ulrich decides to buy a mysterious cursed box called The Skull Box from a shop owner played by Sean Young—yes, Rachel-from-Blade Runner Sean Young.
Obviously, those four friends who next book a slot at Ulrich's escape room have a bad time. I know what you're thinking. Aren't Saw and The Cube sort of already horror movies about escape rooms? Sure, but they're not about the sort of actual games you can play for $20-30 a person all over town. And judging from the trailer, it seems like filmmakers here have definitely been to The Basement in Sylmar.
Let's be clear here. When it comes to horror movies NEVER BUY A MYSTERIOUS PUZZLE BOX. DO NOT OPEN ANY MYSTERIOUS PUZZLE BOXES YOU FIND. That's a key rule, right up there with not splitting up. If you buy or open a mysterious puzzle box, you're basically saying, "Hi, I'll take one haunting, please!" Have you not seen Hellraiser? Have you not seen The Possession (2012), in which a young girl says, "Hey, I'll buy this creepy, old box from a yard sale because what's the worst that could happen?'"
Fun Fact: The Possession is based on the story of the Dybbuk/Dibbuk Box, which was a wine cabinet auctioned off on eBay and believed to be possessed by a dybbuk. A dybbuk is, in Jewish mythology, a bad spirit that can possess the living. According to a 2004 article in the L.A. Times, antique shop owner and writer Kevin Mannis first purchased the box at an estate sale in Oregon. He was told that the box belonged to the seller's grandmother, who instructed her family to never, ever open it. Mannis bought it and said that within an hour, creepy stuff started happening in his shop. Oh, and of course, he opened it and found a number of odd objects inside including a couple pennies, locks of hair and a goblet. He tried to give the box to his mother, who suffered a stroke shortly thereafter.
He then sold the box on Ebay to a college student in Missouri named Isoif Nietzke for $140. Nietzke claimed to have similar luck, complaining of insect infestations, bizarre happenings around the home and vision problems. He, too, decided to sell the box, this time to Jason Haxon, a museum curator also located in Missouri. Haxon claimed to experience strange health problems upon receiving the box, and said he could smell cat pee and flowers near the box, as it turned out previous owners of the box had also smelled. Haxon claims to have consulted with Rabbis about resealing the box, and has supposedly hidden it and refuses to say where. Is the box really cursed? Probably not, but still a fun story, right? Read more about it here.