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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Maze

Since my Netflix queue is kind of bogged down these days, I've decided to try another one of their "Instant" movies to watch, since it doesn't look like I'll get another slasher in the mail in time. So, with a little trepidation, I'm delving into unknown waters with something called The Maze.

So the movie starts with a medical examiner doing an autopsy, as we see flashes of scenes where someone is being chased. As the guy covers the body he's working on and moving on, he gets weirded out by the feeling that he's not alone. He sees a curtain move, and when he decides to start looking around, a hand grabs him by the shoulder. It's only a co-worker, and as they prepare to leave the room together, he knocks a locket that one of the corpses wore off of a table.

In a semi-cool transition from this scene to a flashback, the locket goes from flying through the air, to being worn by a still-alive brunette girl. She's looking under the hood of her car, getting pretty exasperated, so she joins a group of her friends who are all just uselessly standing around telling stories to one another. One guy,Cole(I think), tells a story about a group of friends who travel to a cornfield maze. One of them brushes past a kid in a red-hooded sweatshirt(as I type that, I'm mentally hearing Kevin Nealon singing. "Ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong"...), and they exchange words. The kid whips out a switchblade, then proceeds to gut the poor guy. The storyteller claims the victim was stabbed in the face as well, but we never see that. He then goes on to claim that the dead guy's girlfriend had an hysterical breakdown, but the flashback shows her with the rest of the group, merely looking concerned. The storyteller also mentions a cop investigating, but we never see that, either.

The killer drags away the body into the corn, and disappears. As the story winds up, we learn some of our victims' names: there's Will, a dark-haired guy whose GPS got the group lost in the first place; a long-haired guy named Colin; Cole, a bearded, sarcastic guy with a lack of patience and tact; Jordan, a bitchy girl who seems really irked by Cole; and Alison, a cute chick with glasses.

At the maze(how they know it's the same maze from Colin's dumb story is beyond me...), they decide to play a game of hide and seek, whereby anyone holding the locket is "it", and must tag another person to pass the locket on. Cole ends up with it after a few quick-tags, and everyone takes off in different directions. Cole starts counting to give them all a head start, then he also starts moving. Behind him, the hooded killer watches the departure.

What follows are a few quick scenes of everyone picking a hiding spot. Cole sneaks up behind Will to scare him, then hands him the locket. Will fudges the counting a bit, then starts his search. Jordan hears a noise, and yells angrily at whoever it was who scared her.

It must not have been important to finish that scene, because we then switch randomly to Alison. She's wandering around in--what else?--corn, when she stumbles and loses her glasses. The killer stands in front of her, but she can't see him clearly. He walks right up to her and gives her the glasses, before vanishing into the corn. Creepy.

Will hears the killer near him, and starts to call out Colin's name. He gets startled when the killer appears, but still assumes it's one of his friends. When he tries to talk to the guy, Red Hood turns a corner and goes away. Will pursues the guy, but can't find him. Instead, Alison comes up from behind to give him a quick fright. Geez, doesn't anyone in slasher films ever have peripheral vision???

Well, unfortunately for Alison, she ends up being "it". Will and she compare notes about their encounters with the hooded stranger, and Will insists that they have to warn the others. Off they go!

Cole and Jordan meet up, and have a spat. They used to date, and now Jordan wants him to make like a tree and go the hell away. They go their separate ways, and we see Colin decide to stop hiding on the ground. He gets up, and WHY IS EVERYONE STILL ALIVE AT THIS POINT!!!???

Okay, I just needed to vent. I'm better now. Deep breaths...So Colin decides to just walk around. Nothing happens to him either. Will and Alison get to an open area of the maze. They find a ton of weird, random shit: giant playing cards, a pumpkin on a pedestal, a guillotine, and other strange objects. The hooded killer springs into action, and Will does his best to pin the guy against the giant playing card with one arm. The killer grabs his switchblade, and somehow manages to get the blade to the back of Will's head, to wound the back of his neck. Will falls, and Alison starts running. After examining his handiwork, the killer runs after her.

Cole and Jordan hear her screaming and running, and assume that she and Will are playing some type of sex game. When Alison gets to another "room" in the maze filled with scarecrows that are probably corpses, the killer grabs her from behind. As he strangles her to death, she can see that she was tantalizingly close to an occupied house. The killer finishes her off, puts the locket around his own neck, then drags her body away into the corn.

The next scene shows a woman named Sarah making a series of calls. Her friend Brian is missing. Who's Brian? Seriously, he's not one of the 5 folks we've already met, so why would we hear about him now? She calls the local police, and a guy who looks like a dumb jock answers the phone. Not only does he not help her, he tells her to wait until morning, then call back. Boy, these cops are super-efficient.

The farmer who owns the cornfield shows up now. He starts shouting for anyone who is trespassing to come out and leave, but there's no response. He sneers, and decides to head into the maze to handle the intruders himself.

Jordan apologizes to Cole for her bitchitude, and he starts getting sarcastic, so they split up again. As this is happening, Colin finds the creepy scarecrows sitting at a table. He sees blood on one of the plates in front of the dummies, and discovers that it's dripping from one one of them. A closer examination reveals that it's Alison, and the blood is dripping off of her chin, presumably from a neck or throat wound.

The farmer starts threatening the intruders, telling them that he has a gun, and Jordan and Cole hear him. Wait, didn't they go in different directions after their last fight? How'd they end up together again? Well, whatever. The farmer starts getting the same heebie-jeebies that everyone else has been getting, and starts to move around in a stealthier manner.

Colin's still running through the maze, sure that he's about to die. As he begins to get winded, he decides to duck into the corn and hide. Sure enough, the hooded killer walks by, and just keeps going. Wow, a character in this thing did something smart!

The farmer, still tiptoeing, finds a dropped flashlight. Before he can examine it too closely, he hears something, and raises his shotgun. He starts swinging it around wildly, and Red Hood sneaks up and attacks him. We don't get to see the attack, though, as the scene then shows Jordan and Cole hearing the gunshot. The next time we see the farmer, he's on the ground, dead. The killer stabs him several more times, then takes off into the corn again.

Colin gets up from his hiding place(make up your freaking MIND, dude!), then goes back to the tea party display. He's almost crying as he goes through Alison's pockets, and her corpse falls toward him. He finds what he was looking for, then takes off, nearly running headfirst into Red Hood. Colin starts sprinting away, and the killer follows, at an almost comical speed. If they played "Yakkety-Sax" in this scene, you'd swear it was from the ending of any "Benny Hill" episode.

Cole and Jordan pick up the pace, and find the farmer's body, along with a pocket watch. As Jordan goes bananas, Cole snaps her out of it, and convinces her that they need to find their way out of the maze to get the police. As they resume running, we see Colin, still running, and then tripping. He either twisted or sprained his ankle I guess, because he can't get up again. Both Jordan and Cole hear him struggling to get up, but keep moving. Nice friends.

As you might expect, Red Hood finds Colin on the ground, and decides to finish him off right there. He stabs Colin roughly, several times in the ribs, then turns his body over. As Cole and Jordan stop to see if they can figure out how far they might be from an exit to the maze, Red Hood pops up behind them, and off they go. Again.

Okay, so I need to pause here for just a sec. Does anyone else here see the HUGE plot hole that makes this all seem pretty stupid? It's a maze, sure...but it's CORN. CORN!!! Here's a thought: Just pick a direction, and WALK RIGHT THROUGH THE FREAKING CORN, SHITHEADS!!! I mean, seriously, is corn supposed to be like kryptonite or something? If they all just went in a direction and stayed on that path, they'd eventually emerge from the stupid maze. Right? It'd be a helluva lot better than letting some 90-pound weakling in a sweatshirt pick them off.

All right, end of rant, back to the movie. Red Hood chases our plucky, hate-filled couple, and Jordan nearly falls right onto the body of Colin. Cole gets her back on her feet again, and they try to hide in the corn as quietly as they can manage. Hey, you know what might actually redeem this film somewhat? If the killer and Cole were in cahoots, maybe in some weird plot to try to get Jordan to to date Cole again. What? It's not THAT impossible, plus it might even give us 2 killers in red hooded sweatshirts(dip dip dip!, sorry, I just love that SNL sketch...), like in the Scream films, where there are usually 2 killers. Well, we'll just have to keep watching, and see if I'm on the right track.

Cole leaves Jordan in the hiding place, to see if the coast is clear. He creeps around all of the props, then slowly makes his way down one of the paths in the maze. Red Hood springs up again, and Cole suddenly snatches up the farmer's shotgun and aims it at the killer. As the killer stands there, he opens his hand, revealing that he removed the shotgun shells earlier. D'oh!

Cole tries to use the shotgun as a club instead, and smacks the killer right in the face with it. The killer stands up again, and starts to walk away, but Cole won't let him. He tries to swing the gun around again, and Red Hood reveals his switchblade. He stabs Cole, and knocks him to the ground. Well, so much for MY idea!

Jordan hears nothing nearby, so she limps to her feet(foot?), and starts limp-hopping to safety. Trust me, it looks as silly as it sounds. Not quite dead, Cole starts to come to, as Red Hood drags him off. They end up at the guillotine, where Cole makes not a single move to try to save himself. His last act is to yell to Jordan to run, before his head is chopped off.

Jordan walk-limps to a giant display, where, of course, the killer is hiding. As she tries to look over it to hoist herself up on the flimsy wall, the killer emerges from behind it. He yanks her down from the wall and tries to pin her down, but Jordan fights back. Good thing, too: with about 40 minutes left in this thing, and 1 survivor left, she's going to have to be Rocky Balboa to get out of this.

She starts to whack Red Hood around with what looks like a pillow, and he crumples to the ground. Strong pillow! Then Jordan resumes limping her way to safety. She sees the beheaded body of Cole in the next area, and gets understandably upset. When she drops to the ground and vomits, she suddenly hears the killer approaching. Using her lighter, she decides to set the cornfield on fire as a distraction, then she runs away again.

It doesn't work. As Jordan emerges from the corn maze, Red Hood is riiiiiight behind her. He knocks her down, and she stabs him when he closes in for the kill. After seeing how much blood she got from him, Red Hood attacks her with a rock to the back of her head, then drags her back into the burning maze to see all of her friends' corpses. Jordan gets even more upset, then stabs him again, this time in the abdomen.

By this time, a pretty large crowd has gathered to watch the maze burn down. Jordan collapses in the arms of a cop, and he gets her into his car. Red Hood also escapes, but no one sees him. Damn!

At the station, the sheriff tells a young officer about the fire at the maze. Also, he tells him about Jordan escaping from the maze and saying, "I killed him." Boy, it doesn't look good for her, does it? The sheriff calls in a forensics team, and they try to reach the farmer by phone, not realizing yet that he's among the dead.

Red Hood gets to a gas station, and looks for a car to steal. Sure enough, a woman drives up, and he sees that she left the keys in the ignition. He pops the lighter, then waits for it to get hot. He proceeds to cauterize the most recent stab wound, or at least a small portion of it. Red Hood pops the lighter back into the car, then waits nervously for it to heat up again. As it does, the woman emerges from the gas station, yakking on her cell phone. Uh ohhhh...

The woman gets to the car, and sits in the driver's seat. She immediately sees that the lighter is missing, and her eyes dart up to her mirror. She sees someone in her backseat! Oh, it's just her kid. Nice fake out, movie! You got me good.

Red Hood is hiding outside again, and he pulls the car lighter out of his pocket. He continues to try to get the bleeding to stop, as he limps away down the road. At the police station, Jordan is letting the evidence collection guys dab at all of the blood on her with swabs, and she looks pissed again.

Red Hood tries hitching a ride into town, and a car stops for him. Some grinning doofus picks him up, and proceeds to be loud, obnoxious, and unfunny. To my surprise, Red Hood asks to be dropped off at the police station. After cracking another dumb joke, they start driving again.

These scenes then alternate: we get a scene of the sheriff and the young cop, going over Jordan's story and the evidence, then we get a scene of the 2 idiots driving. Back and forth, back and forth. It's basically a way for them to pad the film's running time a little, and it gets pretty annoying. There is a nice bit of suspense involving the talkative driver, though...he gets SO annoying, that I actually waited for Red Hood to just kill the guy before the journey ended. There's a funny bit where they see a cop behind them with his lights on, and Red Hood orders the guy to pull over. But somehow, in spite of everything, they make it there in one piece.

At the station, the sheriff shows Jordan some of the crime scene evidence, and asks her about several of the victims that were found. When Jordan confirms that she knew them, she breaks down crying. As this interrogation is happening, we get the biggest plot twist yet: Red Hood is a COP!

Yup. He works at the police station. As he puts on his uniform and discards his bloody clothes, the sheriff gets a call saying that 3 more bodies have been found. Red Hood turns out to be a guy named Eric, and he looks like the biggest nerd on the planet. He gets all of the info he needs from the sheriff and the young desk cop, then watches them leave to go examine the scene for themselves.

Jordan, unaware that she's now alone with a killer, begins havimng horrific flashbacks, seeing her friends being murdered and such. It's pretty amazing, especially when you realize that she only witnessed maybe 2 of these killings, or three. I guess they weren't thinking about that when they edited the footage together. Nice. Maybe she suddenly became psychic.

Anyway, as Jordan tries to figure out a way to slip out of the handcuffs, the footage starts running backwards, ending with shot of her locket. Eric then walks in, and asks her questions, trying to determine if she can identify him as the killer. He tries to butter her up, but she just scowls at him.

She finally lets down her guard, and Eric asks her who she thought she might have killed. She describes the red hood, but nothing else. Jordan then relates to Eric exactly how and why her friends were in the corn maze that night. When she tells him about the game of tag, his questions get weirder, to the point where he asks Jordan, "Who won?"

A phone rings, and Eric leaves to answer it. Jordan, now alone again, has time to mull over how strange his words and actions were, and it makes her very uneasy. She eyes a pen on the table, next to the notepad, which has blood on it. Eric gets off the phone with his boss, then looks at a blood swab he took. As he looks into the evidence cooler, Jordan tries to think of a way to use the objects in the room as weapons against him.

Eric returns, with a jug of bleach and a washcloth for her to clean herself off with. Eric starts talking to her again, and Jordan makes up a story about how much guilt she feels over what happened. She picks up the pen and pretends to be writing her confession, as Eric gets up and moves to stand beside her to read it. When Eric sees one of his earlier wounds begin to bleed past his sleeve, Jordan uses his distraction to seize the pen up and stab him in the arm with it.

He drops the nice act, and tells her that he planted her DNA in the evidence kit. Then he knocks her out. When Jordan wakes up, she finds a gun on the table and picks it up. Oh, and the lights are out, which is probably a bad sign. She's no longer cuffed to the table, either, so she creeps her way to the hall.

At one door, Jordan raises the gun and quietly enters the room. She finds the evidence area, and removes the swab she sees in there. Then she almost trips over Eric, who is flat on his back in the room. As Jordan tries to get closer, he sits up and scares her. Then he tells her that her gun has no bullets. He shoots himself in the leg, tells her that he's going to make it look like he shot her after she attacked him, then they fight again. After hitting him with a phone, Jordan gets his gun this time, and he tries to talk her out of killing him.

She demands an apology, and Eric complies, confessing at the same time. Eric then shoots Jordan, but she's still alive. In the nick of time, the sheriff and the other cop enter, weapons drawn. As they ask what happened, Jordan opens her hand, revealing the tape recorder, and she rewinds the tape, then plays Eric's confession. As the other 2 cops aim their guns at Eric, he drops his gun and raises his empty hands. THE END

Eh. As slashers go, it was just average. There were several victims, though, and the music was surprisingly suspenseful for a low-budget film. So, kind of sa mixed bag, I guess. What lessons did The Maze leave me with?

-Well, first of all, corn is IMPOSSIBLE to pass through, like concrete. dumbass victims.

-Your friends will never help you, even if they hear you being murdered.

-No one can see your face if you wear a hood, even if you get close to them...

-Oh, and no one can pay tribute to a sweatshirt like the guys from SNL.

Well, after that a-MAZE-ing(ha! I got one "maze" pun in!) film, I think my next film is either Late Fee or Wrong Turn 3. Oh, and tomorrow's my birthday. 40! Yay for getting old! (if I'm still doing this when I'm 80, someone PLEASE euthanize me.)