07th Oct2012

‘The Maze’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Shalaina Castle, Brandon Sean Pearson, Clare Niederpruem, Kyle Paul, Tye Nelson, Adam Johnson, Sarah Kent | Written by Timothy Gutierrez, Katy Baldwin | Directed by Stephen Shimek

Five friends break into a closed corn maze in the middle of the night and decide to play a harmless game of tag. Little do they know that a psychopathic killer has decided to play along. As they wander aimlessly through the maze the murderer follows closely behind, taunting them and watching their every move. The game turns deadly when the kids decide to separate and weaken their chances of survival. When the mutilated body of the maze owner is found they realize that something is terribly wrong. As they race to find the entrance of the maze, the murderer cleverly forces them to follow the path that he wants. Manipulating everyone to his vicious will, the killer taunts his victims and leads them further into the depths of the maze.

Let’s see. A group of dumb teens played by twenty-something actors? Check. Copious amounts of dumb dialogue and stupid behaviour? Check. A costumed killer? Check (sort of). A ridiculously lame backstory for the killer? Check. Totally anaemic death scenes? Check. That means The Maze must be yet another straight to DVD slasher movie right? Right!

Filled with cliches, The Maze starts out like many a slasher movie of the mid to late 80s. A group of “teens” gathered together telling crappy campfire stories, including one about a killer in a cornfield, who then proceed, idiot style, to go into a corn maze and get bumped off one by one. However unlike many films of the slasher movie heyday, this film actually looks good and its obvious a good portion of the budget went on the cinematography – although that was no doubt at the expense of any decent special effects and gore, both of which this film sorely lacking.

There are some interesting aspects to the film – the creepy “Mad Hatters Tea Party” and “Queen of Hearts” set-ups in the middle of the corn maze where the killer stages his victims for instance, and the fact that the victims actually fight back for once – but they’re outshone by the stupidity of a group of people running round a corn maze, sticking to the clearly defined pathways of the maze when everyone knows you can run through any part of a cornfield. And to top to all off there’s the sheer ridiculousness of a red-hoody wearing killer. In a city set flick like F or Community I can understand it, but to run round a cornfield in a red top, clearly visible by one and all? That just stinks of stupidity on a part of the films resident psychopath – if I was the killer that last thing I’d wear is a bright red jumper! And between his red hood(y) and the tea party set-up you’d think this was a Grimm fairy tale!

Thankfully The Maze abandons it’s titular setting part way through the film and relocates the action to the local police station as one of the group is held for questioning swiftly followed by the hoody-clad killer; and for the remaining portion of the movie there’s more of a suspenseful cat-and-mouse thriller vibe at work, which lifts the film completely out of the doldrums and leaves it on a high note.

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