When director and writer Jon Binkowski created his first horror film Scare Zone, he relied heavily on his showmanship and production skills at Orlando’s Universal Studio especially the Halloween Horror Nights set, which served this film very well, but also highly limited his filming schedule, yet he delivers a popcorn fun horror slasher whodunit story. This is not a in the vein of The Funhouse (1981), nor a scream park, rather an interesting twist on the haunted house, a place most horror fans have visited at least once, and some whom worked behind the scenes, Jon incorporates the latter more so into the film, which serves the film well.
Owner Oliver (Simon Needham) is a businessman first and a horror obsessed genius second though those two battles for control, often in the film, and the showmanship might rival that of the director in some manners too. The story picks up from, Oliver’s attraction running for the third consecutive year, and is only open for three days all set in a small space in a strip mall from the outside but a mad bloody maze inside. His theme this year “Scare ZoneIII: the Psycho-Splatter Raw-Topsy Slaughter Dungeon” with a Victorian maze featuring his best creations, deliver the most insane response from patrons. What truth stands out in the story in the early portion is the workers of the attraction, as they learn some rules (that I recalled when worked at horror attractions), no touching the patrons, no breaks allowed, incentives available, conflicting orders from higher ups never any set hours. In addition to the new crew, some regulars return to assist the production, such as Spider an ex-con played very well by Neil Brown Jr. and the gothic woman named Claire, who sadly is given the stereotypical attributes usually identified with this character in horror films, hobbies visiting a cemetery and cutting herself. However, the actress Arian Waring Ash, gives Claire a proper appearance, and not a woefully shy position, she brings her quick wit and develops a slow love interest with Darryl (Chris Burns). The cast for the most part looks the appropriate age for the workers at the park, and they quickly are assigned to the positions, allowing them much leeway to develop improvisation for their roles. Soon enough the serial killing begins subtle, and yet an attraction, staffs in real life at fly-by-night operations, no matter how much passion the owner has how limited he doles the cash almost to a Scrooge miserly level, the workers do vanish at a quick rate.
The entire film has a fun approach an airy feel to the movie with some great comical subtitles delivered by the work staff two laborers known as Jesus and Pablo, (Jim Miranda and Juan Santos) who each state that the place is cursed and going to hell and that Oliver is a devil worshipper. Once the patrons start proceeding through, the common repeaters, referred to as geeks, appear along with those with false bravados and bully mentalities of instead of enjoying the scares, they proceed to take props and punch the workers. The punching in 2009 haunted houses a rarity, by the real life foreshadowing is incredible, as the events become increasingly more common along with groping, all occurring in darken rooms. The entire movie speeds along, not hurried rather natural paced, with wonderful sound and lighting, additionally the camera work gives some originality the angles. However, this film brings very good practical effects, tasty gory moments, and a rising body count, sure to make everyone happy. Some have complained that the acting feels wooden, though, it might be implied, that the workers of teens seeking a quick buck for minimal effort, hence the stiff manner, plodding aimlessly through, without the full enthusiasm that a setting requires one hundred percent of the time, like that from Spider and Oliver. The movie also produces many red herrings for the killer, though the final choice will surprise many, and that’s what makes a nifty movie.
Scare Zone, needed not to reinvent the genre of haunted houses, rather stays in a perfect setting, on the slasher genre with an odd mystery thrown in for added fun and letting the imagination and guess run rampant. Nothing here for the serious minded horror fan rather sheer indulgence of escapism for 88 minutes. Since the release, Jon continues to create movies such as The Visitant, a ghostly tale, and then perhaps influence a little by this film he made Characterz, and Scare Zone secured distribution through Eagle One Media garnishing them exposure worldwide and digital media options, with a very loaded DVD full of extras to satisfy many in the horror genre.