(Image via Unit 9)

The history of Escape Rooms or Escape Games is foggy at best. They seem to have evolved from haunted house attractions most common at Halloween and expanded to year-around activities for horror fans and thrill-seekers alike.

The first escape room with a permanent location, Real Escape Game, created by Takao Kato turned up in Kyoto, Japan in 2007, and it seemed the world was watching. Before long, escape rooms cropped up in Singapore and San Francisco spreading up to Seattle and beyond.

Currently, these attractions are found across Europe, Asia, Australia, and both North and South America, and really it isn’t hard to see why.

For those who consider themselves horror experts, you see, Escape Rooms are the next evolution in genre entertainment pitting player expertise against unknown monsters and killers in carefully curated terrifying scenarios.

In fact, many Escape Room owners not only count on horror audiences participation but they design their rooms around the genre to whet the appetites of those fans.

In his 2016 article on TheVerge.com, Bryan Bishop chronicled his own terrifying experiences in Los Angeles’ The Basement.

“They led us into the basement like lambs to slaughter…We knew we didn’t have much time until our captor would return, ready to rip the flesh from our bones in cannibalistic glee, so we hurriedly unlocked the cage and tore the room apart, solving riddle after riddle in our quest to escape…Then it hit us. We were missing one vital piece of information, which was almost certainly hidden inside a safe on the wall — a safe that our earlier mistakes had rendered completely inoperable.

That’s when I knew we were all going to die.”

It is a highly effective, immersive form of entertainment that goes beyond virtual reality. You cannot take off the goggles to end your terror. The only way out is through.

Take for instance, The Hex Room.

This particular escape game, developed by Cross Roads Escape Games and located in Anaheim, California, first asks participants to take a short personality test to determine which horror archetype they are: The Nerd, The Jock, The Prom Queen, etc.

Once they’ve been sorted, rather than immediately working together, each person is locked in their own separate room based upon their classification. Each player must overcome their own obstacles before they can regroup with their friends for the final escape puzzles.

If it sounds difficult, I assure you that’s correct. The Hex Room boasts that only 20% can escape with a 5% survival rate.

A view from the Hex Room

Or how about Laurel’s House of Horrors in Laurel, Maryland?

Converted from an abandoned movie theater, Laurel’s House of Horrors themes their escapes specifically after horror movies and television series.

In their “Rage Against Jigsaw” room guests are divided into two teams to investigate one of the infamous Saw killer’s lethal traps. When the trap resets itself, the two teams are pitted against each other, and only the team that works smartest and fastest will escape Jigsaw’s clutches.

And in Atlanta, Georgia, attraction owners invite you to Escape the Netherworld in what has been rated as one of the most terrifying escape rooms in the U.S. Their current games invite you to face down Sasquatch, Nosferatu, and in one particularly chilling room, an evil Night Hag that has haunted a family for over 200 years and must be banished in order for you to escape.

The popularity of these escape rooms  is really no great mystery when one considers that for years we’ve had horror films where characters had to work together and solve puzzles in order to escape certain death.

The Canadian-spawned Cube franchise was based on this premise, and who will ever forget the Saw films to whom Laurel’s House of Horrors pays tribute? And then there was The Collector and the vicious traps his victims had to maneuver to escape.

Oh and don’t forget Hellraiser! Oh wait…never mind…wrong kind of puzzle.

In fact, there’s a brand new film from Adam Robitel set for release in January 2019!

Starring Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood) and Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil), Escape Room centers on six strangers who wake to find themselves locked in a seemingly hopeless and lethal situation with only their wits and cooperation to save them.

Have you ever been to an escape room? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

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