In the early-to-mid 2000s, mainstream horror was dominated by series like Saw, Hostel, and Final Destination, each telling stories of torture and mechanized death that mostly repulsed critics, but reflected the darkening mood of the country more than other studio films dared. Look past their can-you-top-this grisliness and they tap into the common fear that young people have no control over their own destiny, that they’ve given themselves over to some faceless, malevolent force that’s really pulling the strings. When the haunted-house cycle eventually took over, starting with Paranormal Activity, at least there was the possibility of expelling demons from your life. But for a few years, audiences were freaked out by their own sense of powerlessness.
Escape Room is a throwback without the bite, a bloodless PG-13 thriller that recalls the mechanized horror trend while sanding off its serrated edges. Blowing up the brainteaser video games like Myst and real-life escape games, the film has new fears to evoke — like surveillance and the corporate plundering of our most personal secrets — but it’s mostly about picking off the players one by one. It imagines the world as a high-tech death trap and dutifully sets about thinning the herd.
Taking a page or two — or most of the script, really — from David Fincher’s The Game, Escape Room invites six strangers to an immersive adventure conducted by a mysterious company with seemingly limitless resources. And as with Michael Douglas’ hero in the Fincher film, the game is offered as a gift to relieve them from the stress that dominates their lives. If any of them make it through the maze successfully, they win a cool $10,000, but just the experience itself stands to be a benefit to people who are anxious to get out of their heads for a few hours. Who are they to question an Escheresque box of dubious origin?
Leading a neo-Breakfast Club of flavorless stereotypes — a slick businessman (Jay Ellis), a war veteran (Deborah Ann Woll), a coal miner (Tyler Labine), a mega-nerd (Nik Dodani), and a wage drone (Logan Miller) — Taylor Russell stars as Zoey, a shy college student who geeks out over scientific theory, but mostly keeps to herself. Her professor encourages her to take some chances and do something uncomfortable over Thanksgiving break and she obliges by accepting the escape room invitation. When she and the others gather together in the waiting room, they quickly discover that they’re not only already in the game, but they’re playing for life-or-death stakes. Those hidden codes and keys will not merely advance them to the next challenge, but prevent them from, say, succumbing to hypothermia or dropping through a collapsed floor or getting burned alive.
There’s the tiniest sliver of wit to Dodani’s character, an escape room savant who keeps on believing the mortal threats are part of the staging — “It’s really immersive!,” he declares — but Game Night this isn’t. There’s a serious agenda at play here, grounded in the tediously rendered traumas that haunt each member of the group via flashback at various stages. Their personal histories have been harvested by their hosts and an experience has been tailored to their specific vulnerabilities. Call it Facebook horror.
If it can be called horror at all. Director Adam Robitel, who kicked off last year’s opening weekend with Insidious: The Last Key, tries to give each room its own visual and logistical quirks, like a bar where the ceiling is the floor or a frozen lake where the temperature keeps dropping. But they all have essentially the same flavor, with the surviving characters scrambling desperately to figure out whatever riddles and combination locks will get them to the next set of riddles and combination locks. Even at higher stakes, these puzzles are only compelling to the solvers. It’s no fun to look over their shoulders.
Entertainment schedule announced for upcoming Winter Fair at NYS Fairgrounds
A full slate of musicians and other entertainers, including many New York State Fair favorites, have been booked to perform at the upcoming Winter Fair in February.
Held inside the state fairground’s Expo Center, the three-day festival will feature elements of the summertime tradition, including midway rides, vendors and fair foods.
Friday, Feb. 8
4 p.m. – Paul Davie’s Magical Mystery Tour
6 p.m. – The Ripcords
8:30 p.m. – Custom Taylor Band
Saturday, Feb. 9
11 a.m. – Kambuyu Marimba Band
12:15 p.m. – Francis Academy of Irish Dance
1 p.m. – Karate John’s martial arts demonstration
1:30 p.m. – Mike & the Rhythm & Blues
2:20 p.m. – Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy
3 p.m. – Karate John’s martial arts demonstration
3:30 p.m. – Joe Driscoll
4:45 p.m. – Native American Dancers, representing the Six Nations
6 p.m. – The BlackLites
8:30 p.m. – Todd Hobin Band
Sunday, Feb. 10
· 12:15 p.m. – Sera Bullis
· 1:30 p.m. – Winner of the JCC Battle of the Bands (scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19)
· 3:30 p.m. – Grupo Pagan
· 6 p.m. – Jess Novak Band
The fair runs from 3 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10.
Advance tickets are $4 for adults, $2 for teens and seniors and free for children under 12. Advance tickets are available online at nyswinterfair.com. Tickets at the door will be $6 for adults and $4 for teens and seniors.
Toyota Supra returns for 2020 with help from BMW
Since everyone seems to love a reboot these days, Toyota is getting in on the action with the first Supra sports car it’s sold in the United States since 1998.
The long-awaited coupe debuting at the Detroit Auto Show is a collaboration with BMW that has also spawned a new Z4 roadster, but looks every bit the modern Toyota and features an inline-six-cylinder engine just like the most iconic Supras of old.
This one’s a 3.0-liter that’s turbocharged to put out 335 hp, and the Supra has rear-wheel-drive, a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and can hit 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. It’s only available with an 8-speed automatic transmission, but comes standard with a computer-controlled suspension and active rear differential that shifts power from side to side to improve handling.
Toyota’s namesake president Akio Toyoda, who races cars for fun and is one of the brand’s certified Master Drivers, personally took it to the track for development driving. (Must be nice to run your grandfather’s company, huh?)
Toyota is even putting the Supra’s name and face on its spec Nascar Xfinity Series cars this season to drive the performance point home. Toyota’s North American General Manager, Jack Hollis says the company shares the same level of purchase consideration as Ford and Chevrolet among NASCAR fans and expects the Supra to connect with them just as well as the Camry and Tundra have.
It’s very much a grand tourer, though, with an upscale, two-seat interior and plenty of electronic safety aids including automatic emergency brakes, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, but you can always turn them off and just drive.
Pricing will start at $50,920 when the Supra speeds into showrooms this summer.
Who Is Katherine Schwarzenegger? All About Chris Pratt’s New Fiancée and Her Kennedy Connection
Katherine Schwarzenegger is more than just her famous last name.
The 28-year-old recently got engaged to boyfriend Chris Pratt after first being linked together in June 2018. Pratt, 39, revealed the happy news with a sweet picture of him giving Schwarzenegger a kiss on the forehead while she proudly shows off her ring. Schwarzenegger also later posted the same image.
“Sweet Katherine, so happy you said yes! I’m thrilled to be marrying you. Proud to live boldly in faith with you. Here we go! 💍🙏♥️,” Pratt captioned his post.
“My sweet love. Wouldn’t want to live this life with anyone but you ♥️💍” Schwarzenegger wrote on hers.
But who is the famous beauty the action star is set to marry? Read on for more.
Her family is seriously famous
This one is a no-brainer given her last name, but her high-profile parentage goes even deeper than dad Arnold. Schwarzenegger is Arnold and Maria Shriver’s oldest child, with sister Christina, 27, and brothers Patrick, 25, and Christopher, 21, following close behind.
Although her dad is one of the biggest action stars in the world, her mom’s side of the family is even more famous. Shriver’s mom and Schwarzenegger’s grandma was Eunice Kennedy — President John F. Kennedy’s younger sister.
Eunice married Shriver’s dad Sargent, who is also a recognizable name in history. He served as U.S. Ambassador to France and was even the Democratic nominee for Vice President in the 1972 election alongside Presidential nominee George McGovern, but they lost to President Richard Nixon.
Eunice died in 2009 at 88 while Sargent died in 2011 at 95.
She was raised religious
Like Pratt, Schwarzenegger’s religious faith plays a big role in her life. The whole Schwarzenegger clan would often attend church together before Arnold and Maria’s separation, and Schwarzenegger has continued attending service regularly with Pratt.
A source tells PEOPLE that their shared beliefs have been a big part of their relationship.
“They click on a lot of levels, but definitely on a spiritual level,” the source says. “They have the same outlook on the world, and their faith ties them together. He’s really impressed that she’s vocal and unashamed about her beliefs in God, because that’s how he is. He’s constantly around other people who have no faith or are apologetic about it, but not her. She is willing to talk about it to anyone who will listen.”
She’s an accomplished author
Schwarzenegger has made a name for herself as an author, starting with her 2010 book Rock What You’ve Got: Secrets to Loving Your Inner and Outer Beauty from Someone Who’s Been There and Back. Schwarzenegger used the book to tell her own personal story in overcoming self-image issues while giving advice in how to be confident.
Her next book came in 2014 after she struggled finding her way after graduating from the University of Southern California. I Just Graduated . . . Now What? gave advice to fellow recent grads in how to navigate the post-college life.
Schwarzenegger’s latest work is a children’s book titled Maverick and Me, which she released in 2017. It’s named after her rescue dog Maverick and tells the story of how he came into her life.
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