Unnerving Puzzle Horror Flicks: Perfect for Escape Room Aficionados

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Puzzle horror movies combine the best parts of several horror genres to create a genre that most people will love watching.

You will love the puzzle horror genre if you love watching people struggle to escape from rooms filled with fire, gas, sharp objects, and hundreds of other items designed to kill them.

So, let’s start with the best puzzle horror movies you must watch during your next movie night!

Cube (1997)

First up is the hit 1997 horror film Cube, which spawned a small franchise of four movies. It is arguably the first film that started the puzzle horror genre.

The movie features a group of people who wake up in a strange room, one of a seemingly endless maze of rooms. Most rooms have a door on all four sides, and the group must figure out which rooms are safe and which will kill them in a brutal yet creative method. 

The only difference between rooms is their color scheme, and later, the group realizes that the numbers in each room could be a key to their escape.

However, escape will not come easily, and you will find yourself stressing about the characters making it out alive, just like they are.

If you are looking for the movie that spawned the puzzle horror genre many of us love, check out Cube (1997).

And then once you finish that one, why don’t you watch the rest? After all, there is Cube 2: Hypercube, Cube Zero, and the Japanese remake Cube (2021), and if we’re lucky, there’ll be a new Cube film in the upcoming years.

Also, check out The Best Astral Projection Horror Movies.

Saw (2004)

Saw is quite easily one of the most recognized puzzle horror movies as it has remained one of the most popular horror films, not only in the puzzle but also in the hardcore gore genre.

Each movie is filled with deadly traps of increasing ingenuity, and nearly all offer a way out.

The main protagonist is Jigsaw, who wants to rehabilitate people he believes no longer value their lives.

Speaking of which, check out The Best Horror Movies With Masked Killers.

The franchise’s philosophy is questionable for many films, but it is still one of the best franchises you can watch.

Especially right now with Saw X (2023) releasing. Besides Saw 1, eight other saw movies come after leading up to the latest one. Each one is filled with gory traps, from ripping people apart to burning someone alive in a brazen bull.

If you have a weak stomach, this is not the movie for you, as there are blood and body parts throughout most of each movie.

But if you want to watch a serial killer who takes his name from jigsaw puzzles put each one of his victims in a custom deadly game before removing a puzzle piece from everyone who fails to make it out of their games alive, then be sure to give the Saw franchise a watch. You won’t regret it!

Did you know you can watch it for free online? Check out the article Best Free Horror Movies Online and read more.

Breathing Room (2008)

While Breathing Room is not a unique movie, combining tropes from most of the puzzle movies that came before it, it is still worth a watch if you enjoy escape room horror movies.

In this film, a group of strangers are again thrown into a room with collars that will kill them if they don’t survive their various tests. Each person is there for a specific reason, and only those who survive the final test will be allowed to live.

Like Saw, the games have time limits that must be met to ensure the players’ survival, as the mysterious hosts put them through grueling and brutal traps. If they fail, the deadly collar around their neck will end their lives quickly yet brutally.

So, while it’s nothing new, if you have already watched everything else on this list, give Breathing Room a watch. 

Cube 2: Hybercube (2002)

The second Cube movie is much like the first, with a similar premise but a fresh group of people to torture. Each room has a sleeker and more futuristic look, completely overhauling the dingy and industrial brutality the first Cube movie used throughout its different rooms. 

Unlike the first movie, though, Cube 2 focuses more on the characters as they explore the different rooms, trying to find their way out instead of the traps themselves.

However, don’t think they will make it out alive if they don’t collaborate to solve the series of deadly puzzles ahead of them. 

It may not be the greatest sequel, but it is still a fun movie with some great cheesy moments that will make you chuckle amid this supposedly terrifying movie. 

Escape From Marwin (2017)

If you are tired of the same old escape room-styled movies, here is one that breaks the mold. Instead of a bunch of strangers being put into a death game together, Escape From Marwin pits five inmates against each other in a battle royale to figure out who gets to go free. 

They are put into Marwin Mansion and given a forty-hour time limit to escape from the mansion. If they succeed, they get to walk free, acquitted of their crimes, and they will be mercilessly killed on the spot.

While some people might work together, this group is a bunch of hardcore criminals so you can expect a lack of human decency from each player.

So, Escape From Marwin is the movie for you if you want a movie that combines an escape game with some dark humor and a lack of basic human decency.

You might also like this article on horror movies based on real events.

Exam (2009)

While corporations already have insane requirements in some fields, putting their applicants through dozens of interviews to deny them entry, Exam takes that to a new level.

Released in 2009, it features eight people placed into an exam room with a piece of paper and a question they must answer for the employment assessment exam. The only problem, though, is they are not told what the question is and are only given 80 minutes to solve it and answer it on their piece of paper. 

Alongside their paper, a mysterious voice over the company’s intercom system has imposed three rules upon the group. They are: No talking to the armed guard, do not destroy their paper, and anyone who walks out the door is disqualified.

If they follow these rules and answer the question, the prize is a highly desirable corporate job, and if they fail? Well, that is for you to find out when you watch the film. 

The movie is interesting and has a plot twist that seems to come out of left field, which helps keep it interesting. I recommend watching it because who doesn’t want to watch people fight in a potentially deadly game to earn the right to a corporate office? 

No Escape Room (2018)

Next up is No Escape Room, which has an escape room, making its name a bit misleading.

In this supernatural horror feature-length film, a man and his daughter go to an escape room, where they begin working through it with several other people they met there.

Everything starts fine, and the first few puzzles are easily solved. However, things do not remain like that for very long. 

A supernatural force begins to interact with them, turning the escape room from a fun getaway into an actual escape room filled with deadly traps that the players must solve and escape if they don’t want to remain there forever, their bodies left to rot and feed whatever presence is attacking them. 

If you are a horror fan, you will enjoy this film, as while it isn’t super gory or intense, it is still a ghoulish good time. 

Follow Me (2020)

Follow Me is another film inspired by Saw but features a social media influencer named Cole, who travels around the world to take and post pictures of his various experiences.

His latest experience takes him to an escape room in Moscow, which is incredibly difficult to get into. Alongside his friends, Cole must work through a maze of deadly mystery rooms and solve puzzles to save himself and his friends. 

It showcases the lengths that social media influencers are willing to go to and brings up the question of not only the ethical aspect of social media but also the pressure that we as a society place on people in search of clout and fame.

While social media can be great, it can also lead to evil and horrors beyond what we could ever imagine.

Overall, it is a great movie that was done well, even if it was merely to capitalize on the influx of escape room movies during that era. You’ll want to watch it at some point when looking for a new puzzle horror movie to enjoy.

Play or Die (2019)

Play or Die is possibly one of the best puzzle movies on this list, with the two main characters, Lucas and Chloe, bonding over a series of puzzles they must solve.

As they solve the initial puzzles, they are invited to partake in a final game called Paranoia, which will put the two characters into a game that will test their will to live. 

Chloe and Lucas are separated, and four other finalists are stuck in a mansion and told to find their way out to win a huge cash prize. The catch, though, is that each puzzle is extremely deadly, and a single mishap will spell doom for the finalists participating in the game.

If that isn’t enough, there is also a classic horror movie killer stalking the hallways, looking for any contestant who manages to get in his way. So if the traps don’t kill them, he is guaranteed to, ensuring that the mysterious hosts of this game do not have to pay out to whoever manages to win.

Will Chloe and Lucas survive? Who put this game together? Watch Play or Die to learn the answers to your questions, and watch the most dangerous game ever end.

Infinity Chamber (2016)

The final movie on the list is Infinity Chamber.

This movie is quite different from the rest of the movies on this list, as it only features a single person who must solve a series of puzzles to escape.

That person is a young man placed inside a fully automated prison and his enemy? A supercomputer whose sole task is to ensure that he never escapes from the prison he has been placed inside. 

Instead of a brutal fight for survival between different contestants, this movie embodies the feeling of what puzzle movies should be.

It becomes a battle of wits, pitting human intelligence against that of a supercomputer, and you always feel like humans are just slightly behind the sheer might of computers.

In today’s era of AI, this futuristic horror movie is a must-watch. Not only because it showcases what computers eventually could become but because it can provide a little more hope that humans aren’t out of the running yet.

It is a testament to humanity’s indomitable spirit and is one of the best movies you could ever watch.

In Closing

If you are looking for a horrifyingly hair-raising puzzle experience and like watching a group of friends getting killed in some twisted social experiment, puzzle movies are great flicks to enjoy with popcorn, pizza, and a pillow.

Most movies in this genre are escape room movies (similar to Panic Room (2002), which is not a horror movie but a thriller) of some type, whether they are deadly traps like Saw or Cube or more focused on true puzzle solving like Infinity Chamber. 

If you liked this article, check out the 50 best classic horror movies here.


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  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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