Major spoilers ahead. Like its predecessor, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is a warped maze of codes, illusions, near-death experiences, and hard-to-leave spaces — and like its predecessor, the sequel closes with an electric shock of an ending. Basically, if you thought Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) were out of Minos’ labyrinth, you don’t understand the world of Escape Room. In the film’s final few moments, it looks like the duo is safely headed back home, but then Zoey realizes that their plane is just another enclosure.
“There were so many different versions about what [the ending] was going to be. We actually filmed a different version, and then we went back and reshot it and did this one instead,” Russell tells Refinery29. “And this one is so much more ominous and scary and nightmarish. I think it fits the tone of the movie really, really well.” Russell says she was sworn to secrecy about the film’s alternate ending, but it would have taken the sequel “in a completely different direction.”
Escape Room 2 sees Zoey and Ben — both still recovering from the events of Escape Room — trek out to New York in an attempt to find (and expose) the ruthless Minos Corporation. Before they can do that, though, they end up trapped in a subway car that turns out to be the first room in a new life-or-death escape game. They soon learn that their fellow passengers have all gone through this before, too.
Zoey makes it out unscathed, but at the end of the puzzle, she encounters someone surprising: Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), the war veteran who appeared to fall to her death in the first film. As Amanda points out, we never actually saw her die. What actually happened was she was recruited by Minos to design new, terrifyingly dangerous rooms and puzzles. Now, Amanda says, Minos wants Zoey — the de facto escape room champion — to team up with the organization and design rooms.
We don’t get much time to absorb this bombshell, though. Zoey then finds and saves Ben, and they decide to jump on a plane, where they realize they’re still stuck in the game — and realize Minos might be a more powerful, more insidious threat than they imagined.
A third film hasn’t been announced yet, but with so many loose ends, it feels inevitable. The corporation at the centre of these rooms is still the franchise’s biggest mystery. Who, exactly, is behind Minos, and why are they dead-set on torture? Now that we know about Amanda’s involvement (and now that we know they’re after Zoey, specifically), we might finally be a little closer to some answers. As Russell puts it, her character won’t be able to really escape this universe until she takes on the organization itself. “I think for it to stop, she would have to get to the root of where [Minos] is and who’s really running it,” Russell says. “And it’s hard to know who that is.”
The Zoey of Escape Room 2 is very different from the Zoey of Escape Room: She’s more confident in her capabilities, and more obsessed with taking Minos down. In a third film, Russell says she’d love to see Zoey’s relationship with Ben continue to evolve. “I do feel like she’s building a really strong connection with Ben. And, you know, she’s pretty alone in the world. So to have him be one of the rocks in her life… Hopefully, they keep going on some sort of journey together.”
She’d also love for Zoey to catch a break for once, even though it’s starting to look like that might never happen. “She’s happy in some way and finds some solace — I think that would be good,” Russell tells Refinery29. “But then, you know, the chaos of it all is really exciting and fun.”