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THE MAZE

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Film Details:

Director: Steve Shimek

Year of release: 2010

Country of origin: USA

Running time: 86 minutes

DVD/Blu ray: DVD only

Tagline: "This is no field of dreams".

 

 

 

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Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre

Story: A group of five young people with hopes of visiting a corn maze tourist attraction arrive late in the day to find the place closed up for the night.  Feeling bold and reluctant to go home empty handed they decide to break in and investigate the maze anyway.  Among the corn rows they soon engage in a tag/you’re it style game.  As the game plays out it becomes clear that they aren’t at all alone as first believed but instead being stalked by an apparent madman.  

 

With bodies beginning to stack up the maze winds up on fire which draws the attention of the local emergency services.  Our maniac is of the resourceful kind and far from letting the intervening authorities spoil the fun he begins to track any surviving trespassers back into town.

 

 

 

Good points: *Although it isn’t as effective as it could have been mainly due to dull lighting/picture quality the maze itself seen in the first two thirds or so of the story is a cool setting.  It’s been done before I know most notably in the Children of the Corn franchise but there is something creepy and unsettling about corn fields and this does shine through to a point here.  

 

 

*There are some really nice props set up within the maze most of which have an Alice and Wonderland theme to them.  Very much like the maze itself these are creepy and definitely add to the atmosphere within the maze lending things a macabre disconcerting vibe.   Some of these props are used to good effect with one being used to disguise a body with another used to finish off a stunned victim.  I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say these props are the best part of the film.  Says something about the rest of it I guess.  

 

 

*The last third of the film which takes place in the town after the police get involved is a definite step in the right direction.  Things just seemed to pick up and become a bit more exciting for me at this point.  As an example of what I mean there is a part where someone is visiting a store/shop while the killer skulks around her car.  There is then a tension filled moment when she returns to the vehicle and we aren’t sure if the killer is inside or not.  Just seemed more exciting than what had gone before.  

 

 

*The twist revealed within the town section is effective and although it doesn’t really get explained properly in terms of motivation for the killer it is a surprise.  It helped elevate things from what had mainly been the doldrums for me up to this stage.  The use of the tape recorder by the final girl at the very end was quite clever as well.  

 

 

 

Bad Points: *There is a weird scene early on which is kind of a flash forward in time type thing where the bodies of the corn maze victims are being examined.  They are all covered up initially but for some reason the charred skeleton of one of these corpses is suddenly uncovered giving the morgue worker a scare.  It was as if they were going for a supernatural twist which I thought might be touched on again later but needless to say it wasn’t so this part by itself didn’t make any sense.  

 

 

*The first forty minutes or so of the film look awful in terms of the colours and picture quality.  Everything is extremely dull and washed out almost to the point that it seems as if its being presented in black and white.  I think it looks terrible and the only thing I can come up with as to why they would release it in such a state is that it was done intentionally in order to make the red of the killer clothing stand out in contrast to the drab backgrounds.  If so it falls completely flat and makes for a poor viewing experience which also makes it hard to see the props within the maze in much detail.  As things progress the lighting within the maze does get a little better but even then it’s still bad.  It probably would have looked a whole lot better had they reworked the story a bit and shot the maze scenes in the day instead of during the night.  

 

 

*Leading on from the above point it was stupid that the characters arrived at the maze site so late in the evening.  Surely they would reason out that something like that would be a daytime attraction and logically you would assume they would check the opening times online or whatever before starting out?  One way they could have gotten around it is to make out one of the kids knew someone who worked at the maze who had promised to sneak them in after hours only to not be there to meet them when they turned up.  Disappointed they instead decide to break in.  Wouldn’t have taken much to add that into the script would it?    

 

 

*When it comes to the murders there is nothing much to recommend with everything being of a low quality.  There’s hardly anything to get excited about, no special effects etc.  The only half decent death involves the use of one of the maze props which I touched on earlier but even that is lacking any proper gore.  

 

 

*The killer looks absolutely atrocious and is not in any way scary or imposing.  He has a terrible costume if you can even refer to it as such which is debatable.  It’s some sort of weird looking red coat crossed with a hoody which somewhat resembles a chef’s jacket at the front.  It’s laughable at times how the victims seem so afraid of this buffoon.  They act as if they’re being pursued by the Devil himself instead of some guy in a hoody.  

 

 

*Spoiler: Towards the end there’s a confusing part where all of the kills from the maze are recapped in a kind of tape rewind format.  It’s as if it’s all being seen or recalled from final girl Jordan’s point of view despite her not being around for some of the deaths.  Occurring just after a twist It was puzzling to see and for a moment I thought they were going for a double twist ending implying that Jordan had a hand in it all as well.  This wasn’t the case and that wouldn’t have made sense but that’s sort of how it looked.  I think it was actually just intended as a reminder of the earlier mayhem not that it was needed seeing that the viewer had only just witnessed these scenes some half an hour back. It was like something you would see at the beginning of a sequel recapping the events of the previous film.  It felt very out of place and unnecessary.  

 

 

 

Verdict: There’s no way around it really other than to say this is a bad film especially in the early parts where it’s very cheap and amateur looking.  Awful picture quality in the early stages bogs things down as well.  After going through the motions and struggling massively in doing so early on it does pick up a bit near to the end with a change of pace and scenery.  The twist in the tail is okay to be fair but it’s too little too late really and isn’t enough to salvage things.  At least it got a little bit better though as it went on which is more than some other films can boast.  

3/10  26/100

 

 

Bodycount (contains major spoilers):

1) Man: Stabbed in the torso with either scissors or penknife/straight razor type weapon.  It was a little bit unclear but I think this death was supposed to have occurred earlier in the day prior to the kids arriving at the maze.  

2)Will: Stabbed in the back of the neck.  

3)Alison: Garrotted with wire.  

4)Maze owner: Found on the floor with stab wounds.

5)Colin: Stabbed in the legs and torso before having his throat cut.  

6)Cole: Decapitated with guillotine.    

 

 

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