Kitty knows that Gerald has a secret, what she fails to understand is why he is keeping it from her, especially as they are to be married. Also, what does that maze around the family’s ancestral home have to do with what Gerald is hiding and what are those strange footprints upon the ground she wonders. The Maze, as this picture is known by and of which was originally shown in 3D, is an effective little chiller, more mystery than horror, but still containing a good dose of the latter. Starring Veronica Hurst and Richard Carlson, the picture begins innocently enough and soon delves into one man’s past, a past that cannot seem to keep itself contained.
From the first moment that you see the house with that insanely huge maze about it, your mind immediately thinks Minotaur, that ancient creature of Greek myth. Eventually, you come to realize that it is anything but, yet the web that the various writers and director William Cameron Menzies weave, is one that is completely engrossing. The maze itself is a fantastic prop, conjuring up horrific images in your mind as you watch this, even without knowing exactly what is happening within it. Questions abound about the structure, by viewer and Kitty alike and yet, there are few answers. Just when you think you have gotten somewhere or that the film is leading you down a path to revelation, Gerald as played by Carlson is there to slam that door shut.
Without revealing its nature, there is something that resides not only in the maze, but the house as well which explains why the doors are always locked at night. As Veronica Hurst who plays Kitty is the main character, we see events from her perspective and at times, it becomes quite harrowing. It is not just the maze which is a source of horror in this movie, but the atmosphere itself, which is one of hushed whispers and secrets. It is a quiet household and while it is obvious at times that something haunts the mansion, never seeing it with only your imagination to go by, strengthens the tension felt, the mystery present and the horror of the situation.
The Maze is a very unconventional haunted house story, one with a few Gothic overtones and one filled with tragedy. It is that type of misfortune that makes you feel bad and empathize with the creature in a monster movie. That kind that makes you look back upon what you just watched in a different light and realize things were done a certain way because they had to be. There are many great examples of it throughout the history of cinema, particularly from Universal, but The Maze, albeit a minor entry can be added to that list. The direction was tight and the cinematography by Harry Neumann helped to create that claustrophobic feeling felt by the viewer and it bolsters the effects of that final scene. A fantastic picture through and through, The Maze is a film that starts out as one thing and finishes as another.
3.5 out of 5