Stephen Shimek embarks with his first horror film as director, with screenwriters Katy Baldwin and Timothy Gutierrez story about a slasher genre mayhem occurring from trespassing teens caught in a cornfield maze. This first promotes how cans one break into a maze especially when it is by the side of the road, no gates exist, however Shimek advances the tensions quickly with blurring images and adding in a game of tag to heighten the atmosphere.
A straight-forward plot, sets out before the viewer with five teens breaking into a closed corn maze, at night, and then dropping in wandering psychopathic killer, following and learning about his victim pool as they play tag. Soon enough the bloodshed starts and mutilated bodies, mostly shown off-screen, starting to pile up in the dead ends of the maze. The characters had some believability and convincing the audience of impending doom and fear, as the killer did not bring that themselves, in fact, a red hoodie disguise leaves much wanting to pop red-riding hood jokes. This film had the checklist covered for the slasher film, a bit of gore, disguise villain, casting a mixed bag, and steering always from solid clichés. Shalaina Catle portraying Jordan and her ex-boyfriend Cole (Brandon Sean Pearson) accompanied by Alison and Will (Cale Niederpruem and Kyle Paul respectively) and lastly the comedic relief presented by the fifth-wheel Tye Nelson as Collin all do a wonderful job in the roles, and carry the film over the rough and muddle portions of the movie. However, a scene stealer comes from Sherriff Ben, starring director and actor Richard Dutcher, known for Evil Angel (2009) and Skinwalker Ranch (2013), tough minded man, with deep insight into his character.
The camera direction, performed at a confident pace, presenting a creepy location, followed by quick cuts (not jump cuts) the suspense dwindling, unendingly in the attempts for a menacing stalking killer. The cover art of the DVD suggests a variation of Children of the Corn; however the big butcher knife never appears in the movie. Rather the look and action of switchblades and butterfly knives tries to express a more intimate killing weapon of choice. Nevertheless to quote the character Crocodile Dundee, “That’s not a knife, this is a Knife,” flashing the big bowie knife to the switchblade. So many homicidal maniacs know that size does matter, Jason and his machete, Myers and Norman both use butcher knives, and the newer generation needs to learn the lesson early to avoid the laughter. Sadly, the lack motivation of intense killer, drags this production, and some the adeptness of the characters a smoker who can’t flick a lighter, and at times the storyline a tad too simplistic. Nevertheless, Shimek allows the location to speak volumes, easy enough, set at night and it is The Maze, greatly shines against less than memorable characters, although Shalanina and Clare do carry the emotional portion of the film. An interesting aspect from the film comes of the references in the music at times similar to the powerful strings of Pyscho’s Bernard Herrmann and then in the maze The Shining’s music from Krzysztof Penderecki quite effectively used to unleashed a barrage of emotions.
In the month October, various haunted and scary attractions expand exponentially and with numerous spooky trails and cornfield mazes filled with cheap thrills come from both the workers and sometimes other guests the wondrous mind-set of crazed killers existing in the shadows to have their game of scares to play. The horror genre has at least ten films that use cornfields as backdrops that hold a special terrorizing fear for zombie confrontations, and future Children of the Corn, the location fits perfectly for the independent filmmaker, cheap and easy access. Except for one aspect needed in a horror film, a sense being trapped, a claustrophobic containment, a cornfield not ideal, running in a direction will have one escaping the terror eventually, as there are usually square or rectangle fields, with a road separating portions. The sense of helplessness appear in numerous films, from Hitchcock’s Rear Window, James Stewart stuck in a wheelchair to a trap from Jigsaw that sadly lacks herein, well except the killer at the police station – a twist for the viewers. A classic slasher genre film from Monarch Home Video with some creepiness, and ending with a seriously different track for the audience to enjoy, with the final girl pursuing the monster in a thinking and cunning game rather than mere overdone physical battles that scattered the 80s, 90s and into 2000.