Director – Steve Shimek
Cast – Shalaina Castle, Brandon Sean Pearson, Clare Niederpruem, Kyle Paul, Tye Nelson, Luke Drake, Richard Dutcher, Allan Groves, Marty Steinberg, Adam Johnson, Sarah Kent
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that I came across randomly just a few days ago, and after viewing its plot centering on a corn maze I figured I’d give this one a go given I rarely see films employing the often-positive corn maze atmosphere. While The Maze started off well and dished out the action early, it sadly headed south after the first act and thanks to both an odd plot and slightly-negative direction this film managed to barely come off as a mediocre watch.
Five friends arrive late to a corn maze and decide to break into the closed maze for a game of “tag”. Little do they know, a psychopath sporting a ballisong(butterfly knife) has made his way into the corn maze as well, and decides to join in on the game. Cleverly following and taunting the friends, he begins to slice them up as they separate from one another. As they come across the bodies of those already slain, the remaining survivors race to find the entrance to the maze, and the real “game” tonight begins.
I have always enjoyed horror films that involve corn fields because they provide a nice creepy atmosphere, so the idea of centering a film around a corn maze drew me in because of its ability to not only provide good atmosphere, but provide a somewhat nowhere-to-run scenario for our protagonists given they have no immediate way out of it. Throw in the slasher element this film provides and you have a storyline that bleeds much potential, which is what really let me down given The Maze’s end result.
As I mentioned earlier, the film starts off quick, delivering the killing action pretty early into the film resulting in a fast paced and action packed first half. Watching the killer methodically toy and mess with his victims was awesome to watch, especially because he took his sweet time and patiently waited for the supreme opportunity to unleash his carnage. There was however one problem that arose around the halfway point that left me dumbfounded, and that was the fact that all but one of the five friends had already been killed. I was thinking to myself, “OK, you’ve still got 45 minutes left and all but one of your characters are dead, where the hell does this go?”, and what ensued next will either be loved by some or most likely hated by all. The story then slows down tremendously and gives us a slow-moving cat and mouse game between the lead protagonist and the killer and completely abandons the maze setting. I did not know what to think of this at first, but things eventually improved when we are given a terrifying revelation behind who the killer is, and results in a fairly tense third act that eventually sped things up again. Like I said, some may love it, most will probably hate it, but as for me I felt that it was a creative idea that I rarely see used in the genre, but it just was not executed to full potential.
Director Steve Shimek did an OK job with the film’s direction, with the majority of his positives coming in regards to the atmosphere he created. His sets were great, and with the bulk of the film taking place after sunset we were given a good atmosphere that mixed well with the corn maze setting and provided many hiding place for both our protagonists and our killer to hide in. sadly, Shimek’s execution is unfavorable at many times, especially his usage of the film’s killer. While handy with his ballisong(“butterfly knife”), I did not enjoy how this killer was executed and found his mannerisms to be boring and unlikable. Usually when we are given a sweet killer I get quite excited when he/she graces the screen, but with the killer in this film I only found myself slightly interested in what was going on. To make matters worse, the kills in this film were also poorly executed to the lowest extent, with several of them so bad that I could see the actor portraying the killer missing the victim’s throat by a good three inches but the victim would still fall as if his/her throat were slashed. This happened again with several stabbing scenes in which it was obvious the actor was not stabbing anything but the air around the person. Had these kills been better-executed and delivered positive results then The Maze could have fared a better rating even with its love/hate plot, but that just not the case here.
Overall, this is a barely decent watch that contained much potential in blending the slasher sub-genre with a unique corn maze setting, but in the end weak direction from Steve Shimek mixed with a mediocre screenplay kept The Maze from anything worthwhile.