“Two estranged brothers reunite at their childhood home in the Alaskan wild. They set out on a two-day hike and are stalked by an unrelenting grizzly bear.”

Director: David Hackl
Writers: Guy Moshe, J.R. Reher
Staring: James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Piper Perabo, Scott Glenn, Billy Bob Thornton
Streaming: Netflix
Release Date: August 4, 2015

I turned on Into The Grizzly Maze (2015) and my girlfriend said “Hey, I know these people.” There are a lot of recognizable names in the Grizzly Maze, but notability is not equitable to success on the screen. Though let’s be honest here, did we tune into this movie expecting top-end talent?

(The answer is no.)

Rowan (James Marsden) is returning to his Alaskan hometown to look for a lost friend in the deep woods. He thought he had escaped his origins but upon returning he is thrusted into past relationships that still have an effect on him. Rowan must work with his estranged brother Beckett (Thomas Jane), his close female friend Michelle (Piper Perabo), Beckett’s deaf wife Kaley (Michaela McManus) and renowned bear hunter Douglass (Billy Bob Thornton) to survive a two-day hike against a violent, vengeful, massive grizzly bear.

It is an absurd premise for a movie. Let’s just put that out here now. Speaking personally, I am a fan of monster movies. I will really turn any of them on and let them numb my brain. I have seen plenty of bad ones, and Into The Grizzly Maze is not the worse. It is not Crawl (2019), but it is serviceable for its reliable formula.

What does Into The Grizzly Maze have? Everything you expect.

  • A pretty leading character with a turbulent pass and relationships to mend.
  • A monster that is killing at will that is “smarter than your average” killing machine
  • A over-confident monster hunter who is humbled when it comes clobbering time
  • A member of the endangered team getting hurt and hindering an escape
  • A team-up at the end to help achieve success for some when nothing seems viable

Director David Hackl is a five-time movie director and Into The Grizzly Maze is the second on his ledger. Hackl’s first directing job was Saw V (2008). For those counting, that is seven years between projects. None of his movies have higher than his first professional attempt.

It was shocking to see Scott Glen in a movie like this. I will always just remember him for his tracking of Hannibal Lector as Jack Crawford back in the early 1990s, and this is a great departure from that quality of acting and movie. Lead actor James Marsden was the lead actor in four movies this summer, non of which were high profile at all. This is before he had his Westworld blowup. Though, I must admit that I do associate him with the 2011 horror movie remake Straw Dogs. Why? I couldn’t tell you. Thomas Jane has a face every remembers, and even more so for Billy Bob Thornton. It was a filler movie for some people who wanted to take a trip to Alaska.

STANKO RATING: D+ (2.0/5 Stars)


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