The Maze

Year: 2010
Director:  Steve Shimek
Cast:  Shalaina Castle, Brandon Sean Pearson, Clare Niederpruem, Kyle Paul

Bored and looking for some excitement, a group of friends decide to break into an closed Halloween corn maze to play an innocent game of tag.  However, their game is quickly cut short when a killer, disguised solely by a bright red hoody, shows up and begins hunting them one by one.

It is quite a treat to, after sitting through countless dull, lifeless, and just plain bad horror films, come across an unexpected gem like The Maze.  Though the plot is standard cliched slasher fare, where The Maze sets its self apart is in style and production.  It is obvious that the individuals involved in making this film are fans of the genre and took great care in the production of the film.  First, the film looks great.  Lighting is used perfectly to create an atmosphere and style that is rather unique and highly effective.  Unlike many direct to video slasher films, we can actually see what is going on in the film, even though it takes place entirely at night.  The setting itself--the corn maze--is utilized perfectly and is used to create suspense and tension.  As The Children of the Corn demonstrated, corn fields are damn creepy places.  It's what we can't seen hiding among the plethora of cornstalks that is disturbing and The Maze capitalizes on this by giving us glimpses of the killer's blood red hoody faintly visible in the background among the stalks, eerily watching a potential victim.  Even when the film shifts setting in the last fifteen minutes, it maintains its effectiveness and style though use of color and lighting.   The revelation of the killer is breathtaking simply because of how utterly disturbing and interesting the killer is portrayed.

Despite the wonderful production values of the film, The Maze has its flaws.   The script is probably the weakest part of the film, at least the first half of it, and there is little attempt and creating memorable characters among the friends who enter the corn maze.   They are simply fodder for the killer and the actors, with the exception of a few, do little to make these characters interesting. The death scenes are all very uninspired when compared the to the tone rest of the film and certainly could have been much more striking.  The ending is clever and unpredictable, but definitely creates some questions regarding what events that occurred earlier in the film.   Still, The Maze is one of the best looking, most stylistic direct to video horror films I have seen in quite some time.   Those who appreciate good filmmaking should definitely find something to appreciate in this film, even if they find the plot less than appealing.

Fright Meter Grade: 

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