Escape Room: Tournament of Champions director Adam Robitel has told RTÉ Entertainment he came back to make the sequel to Escape Room because he didn't learn his lesson after the challenges of the first film.
Robitel's follow-up to his 2019 box office hit pits survivors Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) against the nefarious Minos Escape Rooms Corporation on trains, beaches and downtown streets as they fight for their lives.
When asked what the first film had taught him, Robitel laughed: "I should never make an Escape Room movie because they're so impossibly difficult and challenging was probably my takeaway. I should have listened to myself!"
"They're just really hard movies to make," he explained. "The rooms themselves are so challenging. You have six actors in a space; you have some crazy element, whether it's going to be rain or lasers. So, they're super challenging but they're super fun."
Robitel continued: "I think the main thing I came out of the success of the first movie [with] was, 'If there's going to be a sequel, we have to expand the world to make it bigger, 'badder', 'meaner''.
"In this movie, I really tried to say that the organisation behind the game, they can manipulate your life, they can pull you in when they want to. Even the idea of free will and your own choices is all a lie, and I thought that was a really cool thematic thing.
"I think people now coming out of Covid feel like that there are forces beyond their control, beyond their agency. So, those are the kind of broad-stroke things I wanted to do with the sequel - and give the audience some cool thrills again, ultimately."
For the filmmaker, "the hardest room was certainly the beach".
"We did it all practically," he recounted. "We had 20,000kg of sand. We shot it in South Africa and they brought in all this sand on these massive trucks. The set was built on a rostrum, like six feet off the floor. It smelled like a dead crab.
"The special effects team, they went in underneath the sand and they would aerate it with these hoses and it would liquify. After about a minute, the actors start to sink. It was kicking up sand in people's faces, people's corneas were being scratched.
"So, it was challenging [but] I'm glad we did it practically. The pier itself was on hydraulics so it could sink; the crab shack was on hydraulics so we could roll it - it was sort of like an old school, Universal backlot stunt show in a way."
Robitel concluded that he wouldn't rule out putting himself in the Escape Room world again.
"I never say never," he said, "but I'm going to do some TV next. We'll see. I'm looking forward to some more storytelling. I have a show I'm going to do next with Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), actually. There's no sand!"
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is in cinemas now.