Better late than never (it’s already had four seasons), recently I took out a four month free trial of Youtube Premium (after buying a Samsung tablet) and have started watching Escape the Night with it.
In it, Youtube Personality Joey Graceffa invites twelve other Youtube Personalities to his newly bequeathed estate for a period costume dinner party. But oh no! The house is supernatural and evil! And to escape they must work together to solve escape room style puzzles and challenges, each episode (usually) ending with one of them, voted into a head-to-head challenge, dying in a ghastly fashion.
I’m eight episodes in. As a format it’s no great shakes (although with some tweaks it could be). Each episode is based around effectively a monster-of-the-week scenario. The first two-thirds of each 24 minute episode is Youtube Personalities emoting their way through some puzzles which ultimately have little consequence other than pushing the narrative along. The final bit of each episode usually consists of a vote for two people to go into a head to head challenge, again of the puzzly variety, only for one to return (with an artifact, or freeing a spirit or whatever). Vote mechanism is mildly interesting – everyone votes for someone then two bits of paper are drawn at random to determine the losers.
Taken as a straight gameshow it’s a bit disappointing. However viewed as a Korean-style variety show (Bother’s Bar’s favourite comparison guide) it’s rather more successful – it doesn’t really matter who wins, it’s mainly about your favourite Youtube Personalities emoting through challenges written with slightly too many instructions (and, in a slightly ridiculous manner, real life confessional cutaways based on effectively fictional situations). As a yarn, it works – the house is a bit of a star with many mysteries and secrets to uncover and so seeing what happens next is compelling. The host’s campness does quite a good job of cutting through some of the pomposity of the writing and (variable) acting. Basically if you quite enjoyed Whodunnit? despite its rather glaring format flaws, or you quite like Busted on Netflix but wishes it wasn’t 90 minutes an episode, this is worth a look.
And it seems like seasons 1-3 are free to watch at time of writing, so fill your boots.