Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Shalaina Castle, Brandon Sean Pearson, Clare Niederpruem, Kyle Paul, Tye Nelson, Luke Drake
Directed by Steve Shimek
The Maze boasts the dumbest slasher movie victims in the history of slasher movie cinema, of this I am certain. How can I make such a bold declaration with the absolute of certainty? Because The Maze is about a slasher stalking teens in a corm maze, and only one of the potential victims ever has the common sense to realize that the easiest way to escape is to just start running directly through the corn and keep charging forward until they are maize-free. Stalks of corn plowed to form a labyrinth for people to walk about – not concrete walls, not iron bars, not some impenetrable material that makes pushing through impossible. Yet, with only one exception these dolts feel compelled to play by the rules of the maze, running around corners and dead ends, even as a homicidal maniac tries to murder them. These victims take the phrase “too stupid to live” to a whole new level.
The Maze also boasts one of the least menacing psychos ever seen in a slasher flick. I think the filmmakers were shooting for a quietly intense creepiness with their killer, but this madman just comes across as an emo dork in jeans and a red hoodie. If he was a girl, there would at least be a Little Red Riding Hood theme to be culled from his attire. Instead we get this expressionless, emotionless guy in a red hoodie stabbing and cutting throats with a switchblade as if Peter Parker turned into a low rent Michael Myers. Not exactly the stuff of nightmares.
That big butcher knife in the artwork – nowhere to be found in this movie. Objects in artwork are much smaller than they appear.
The premise of teens in a corn maze late at night being terrorized by a maniac is not a bad one. A quiet calm eeriness, a sense of being trapped even though you’re outdoors, toss in some Halloween decorations and a dark, spooky night: I’m surprised we haven’t had more horror movies based around corn mazes by now. That The Maze fails to fully capitalize on its setting is a profound disappointment. Director Steve Shimek is able to capture some of the atmosphere of the titular setting but nothing he or anyone else does can change the reality that over half of this film is just characters wandering around a corn maze waiting to get chased and killed by a killer devoid of superhuman abilities so physically unimposing the men should have been able to put up a better fight and the women with a modicum of self defense skills should have been able to fend him off as well.
A strong opening quickly saw any hope dashed when most of the next hour consisted of slow paced stalking and killing inside a corn maze with victims as dull as they are dumb. One girl wears glasses, another is a smoker who doesn’t appear particularly adept at using a lighter; these minor traits are about all there is to make any of these people distinct. This is rudimentary slasher moviemaking.
The second half leaves the maze behind with the lone survivor of the massacre now in the local police station being treated as the prime suspect in the slayings while the red hoodie killer hitchhikes to the police station to set up an eye-rolling twist. What had started out as a slasher movie abruptly transformed into a lame thriller that boils down to the final survivor having to find a way to trick the killer into confessing to prove her innocence. Admittedly, this is a fairly original twist when it comes to slasher movies, just not a terribly suspenseful or entertaining one.
Whether it was to pad out the film or because someone behind the scenes had no faith in the audience’s attention span, this third acts felt the need to squeeze in an extended flashback sequence recounting the kills and highlights of the first hour. Yeah, as if those of us still watching were in dire need of a refresher chronicling the only moments of action in this bore.
I suspect only the most easily frightened will get the heebie jeebies out of anything that occurs in or out of this corn maze and I’m pretty sure the typical slasher movie fan will be massively let down by the uninspired and mainly anemic kills. The Maze is about as much fun as watching people walk around a corn maze for 90 minutes.
1 out of 5
Discuss The Maze in the comments section below!