The term “Escape Room” is more commonly associated nowadays with the world of gaming. For decades, the world of video games, for example, has made escape rooms a staple of game design thanks to how easily compelling they can be. They involve mystery, which is always a good driving force for any story, and they rely on being an active observer and an analytical thinker. These qualities make for even the simplest of Escape Rooms an interesting experience. Two is a movie that tries to apply these gaming conventions to a film, but with the lack of interactivity and a flat resolution, the result is half-baked.
Two is a film directed by Mar Targarona and Mike Hostench and stars Pablo Derqui and Marina Gatell. The film tells the story of two strangers who wake up naked in bed. There are two problems, they don’t know each other, they don’t know how they got there, and they are attached by their hips. Together, these two strangers will need to find a way out of this room and learn the truth about what has happened to them.
The creation of a mystery is not a simple thing. The beginning can be quite compelling, as the author can throw a lot of questions, mysteries, and hints at the wall and see what sticks up. But in the end, all these mysteries and threads need to lead to a place that is worthy of the time invested in them. If this is not the case, then audiences will be disappointed, or even angry at what they have seen. It is a very fine line to walk on, and many mystery storylines end up falling flat on one or another.
Two, is one of those stories. At the beginning of the film; the premise is quite interesting. The mystery is compelling enough that it will make you look for clues all over the room and in the answers of the characters when they ask questions of each other. If the audience is knowledgeable about these kinds of plots, then they will analyze everything that is being said and done. Anything could be a clue.
Targarona does a great job of igniting the mystery and keeping it fascinating for the first twenty or so minutes. However, the movie quickly becomes a series of revelations that come only from the inside knowledge of the characters themselves. There are not really any clues outside their heads that would allow the audience to get into the game of deciphering the mystery.
This approach to mystery storytelling has both pros and cons. In the pros, you can add that any new revelation will catch the audience off guard, and surprising the audience is always a good thing. Although the feeling of surprise is ephemeral, it only lasts a couple of seconds before fading away.
In the cons, we can add that by not making use of the audience as an active participant in the story but treating it as a passive agent; the movie feels like it wants to end before it even starts. The short running time of the piece says a lot about how the filmmakers approached the story. There’s no time or hints for the audience to catch up, the game is being played without the audience’s involvement, so just watch the movie and wait until everything is revealed and explained to you.
When the resolution to the mystery comes and everything is laid out clearly to the audience, the answer ends up coming from a place of insanity. And it is very hard to care about unlikable cardboard characters trapped in this type of situation. Even the last image of the film feels very self-important, as if the filmmakers are trying to give a sense of relevance to a story that doesn’t have any impact. In gaming, these types of stories have the expected impact because the audience is being a participant, but here, you are not allowed to do that.
Even if the storytelling doesn’t really work, the actors are doing a solid job with the little material they have to work with. Derqui and Gatell pull off the looks of people with secrets and people you can’t really trust, and their interactions are quite realistic, especially at the beginning of the film. Later, as the story becomes more and more ridiculous, their characters end up being guided by the plot instead of making the decisions that would facilitate the story. At that point, both actors are just following along as best they can.
Two, starts with big promises but falls flat towards the middle by taking the audience out of the equation when it comes to solving the mystery it presents. At least it is short, running for maybe just an hour and ten minutes, but there is better stuff out there to watch instead.