Interview with Cory Goerke about his Escape Room dark comedy sketch

Cory Goerke, Writer/Director and Bejan Faramarzi, Producer, created this wonderfully dark comedy sketch.

Cory is a Game Guide at The Escape Game Austin. This video is not in any way affiliated with The Escape Game. However, we wondered how much of this video came out of his experience working in the escape room industry. Here’s a little more background on this piece.

Room Escape Artist: Your video hilariously captures the common reaction from people who are knee-jerk turned off to the idea of escape rooms. What made you decide to film such a literal interpretation of that reaction?

Cory: Well I don’t know about you, but I find these reactions hilarious. I wanted to play off those assumptions and fears of escape rooms to show just how ridiculous these reactions are.

Escape rooms are still commonly misunderstood. They are definitely the new kid on the block in terms of entertainment medium.

People have been watching movies since the late 1800s. When The Lumiere Brothers released Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, it was simply a shot of a train pulling into the station and coming directly towards the camera. No sound. No color. However, it was freaking people out. They had never seen a moving picture before and suddenly they’re seeing a giant train barreling towards them. There are even stories of people running out of the theater, afraid that the train was going to break through the screen.

People have these reactions to things they don’t fully understand yet. It’s usually the people who have the knee-jerk reactions who end up having the most fun when they eventually play an escape room.

You’re a game guide with The Escape Game Austin. What parts of the video were inspired by your observations of real life teams?

Coming from a background in film, I quickly realized that our escape rooms are playable movie sets. The players that come through are actors in their own little movies. It’s a unique experience each time a team plays one of our escape rooms.

As a game guide, I watch who, in each team, will display certain character tropes. I definitely took note of these when writing the sketch.

Screengrab from the video: A female escape room player in a dark room with a flashlight. She is inspecting an item on a high shelf.

I chose to focus the sketch around couples rather than a random group of people playing together because it’s always exciting to put couples in escape rooms. If you get a couple that is really competitive, things can get pretty heated. It’s fun seeing them work through the ups and downs of their experiences in the escape rooms. I definitely wanted to amplify this group dynamic in the sketch.

The Escape Game is one of the most family-friendly companies out there and your video is hilariously dark in contrast. Discuss?

Well, the sketch is not affiliated with The Escape Game. However, you’re absolutely right; this sketch is pretty much the exact opposite experience from The Escape Game.

When creating this sketch, I asked myself what it would be like to put specific groups of famous people in an escape room. I ended up being influenced by The Donner Party. They seemed like the worst group of people to play an escape room, hands down. This is what takes the sketch to a dark place. I ran with that to up the horror aspect.

I worked with Bejan Faramarzi, the producer of this project, and he managed to find an abandoned bar in Austin that had a similar feel to the original Saw movies. I loved the location.

These aspects, paired with the comedy bits, created the humor in this dark scenario. I was lucky to have actors that could deliver this crazy dialogue in a hilarious manner. They capture that frantic feeling that you would expect from an escape room if you’ve never played one before. It’s hard not to laugh at it when you watch.

Can we expect more?

Absolutely. I have some very exciting projects coming out this year, highlighted by directing my first feature film at the end of the year. I’ll be directing a hilarious new show called Drunk Therapy, which I developed with the insanely talented Rebecca Dunagan.

This escape room sketch has received an amazing response. There’s a lot of material I would love to explore when it comes to escape room culture and working at an escape room. I’ve been working with some incredible writers to develop this escape room concept into a TV show format. We will probably have a pilot ready to go a little later this year.

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