Recently: “Into the Grizzly Maze”

Creature features or wild animal attack films, or whatever the hell you want to call them, they’re not good for anything. Some can be entertaining in some way, if you have a group of friends and lots to drink, but if it’s just you, things don’t look so good. For some reason this is a type of film people like. After this, I’m not sure I’m one of them.

The Vertical Entertainment and Destination Films film “Into the Grizzly Maze”, sounds like a good creature feature or survival film, but having to survive your own bear encounter would be far more interesting.

This horror-thriller stars James Marsden (upcoming series “Westworld (2016 TV series)”, “Wander Over Yonder”), Thomas Jane (“The Expanse”, “The Veil”), Piper Perabo (upcoming series “Notorious”, “Covert Affairs”), Scott Glenn (“Daredevil (2015 TV series)”, “The Barber”), Michaela McManus (“Aquarius”, “Love Finds You in Valentine”), Bart the Bear, and Billy Bob Thornton (upcoming projects “Goliath”, “Bad Santa 2”).

The film was directed by David Hackl (“Real Detective”, “Saw V”) and written by Guy Moshe (“Bunraku”, “Holly”) and J.R. Reher (“Tissue (Short 2011)”, “Abandoned Minds (Short 2002)”).

The film debuted in a limited theatrical release on June 26, 2015 and shortly after was released on DVD.

It was on. That’s it. It was on. If I’d waited for there to be no other good films to watch, which were available at Redbox, then this film may have been avoided for several years. Sadly, I ignored my gut, and this is what I got. I wish I could say that I’ll never do this again, but I think I already have, and this is what came of it.

Films about genetically altered animals, real animals, escapes, rescues from wild animals, or survival films like this, well, I like them all. Even the ones on SyFy. They don’t bother me. Sure they’re usually terrible, but that’s half the fun! If you go in with the right attitude, you’ll enjoy the awfulness given to you. After all, it was asked for.

In this case, well I didn’t really know. I came around to watching it because of the cast, and then when I learned about some of the other actors in it, I got even more excited! That didn’t last long.

It’s a survival horror film, and not in the fun way that “Resident Evil” was, the first film or the games. I want to say the writers tried, but this is such a tired story. It really is. A bear is attacking people, with no discernible reason, and was then labeled as a really smart animal. Thornton eventually says, “And it will hunt you, trust me.” Why? How? In all of the explaining that is done in this film, none of it makes a lick of sense. Mind you, I know nothing about bears or bear attacks, so I can’t say one way or the other. However, the trick with films like this, just make it as believable as possible. If that can be achieved, then no one will care about all the other ludicrous aspects of the story. And that’s pretty much all that this film has going for it, which is obviously not much.

The rest of the time, which doesn’t go by quickly at all, you’re watching people hunt for other people. Occasionally the bear gets to have a snack or just play with its food, whichever seems most fun at the time. Within this walking, stumbling, making bad choices, all delivered with surprisingly decent acting, you get no reason whatsoever to give a shit. That’s right, the bear should’ve just eaten all these fuckers right then and there, and spent the rest of the time roaming the forest with David Attenborough narrating. If he weren’t available, maybe Sigourney Weaver or Oprah Winfrey could find time in their schedules. But seriously, I didn’t care. I know this film’s story centers on two estranged brothers, and other aspects of drama that comes with living in Alaska, but I didn’t buy it. I didn’t care. I should at least care about some of the characters.

In all honesty, which makes sense in so many ways, I didn’t even give a shit about the deaths. Yes they’re bloody, but maybe not bloody enough, but since they’re caused by a very smart and hungry bear, there’s nothing to get excited about. Not really. You can’t really have creativity with these. Making it worse is the above stuff. I don’t care about the people getting mauled or the ones that die. There’s no reason to.

I can’t say there was much potential for this film, but I do believe SyFy could’ve done a better job. I certainly would’ve enjoyed it a helluva lot more. Perhaps if this creature feature, which is what I’m going to call it from now on, had been better and not as serious, it would’ve been fun. Or if the story itself just wasn’t one we’d already seen before. Perhaps this is just another sign. Stay away from direct-to-DVD releases, no matter who’s in the film. There’s a reason why you’d previously never heard of it, and then stumbled upon it at Redbox.


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