Scare Zone Movie Review, A Horror Movie Set In A Duty X Horror Maze

By ABBIE BERNSTEIN / Editor

Published: June 18, 2022 / 2:34 PM

SCARY ZONE poster | © 2022 Terror Films

Evaluation: Unclassified
Stars: Arian Ash, Chris Burns, Neil Brown Jr., Simon Needham, Michele Feren, Jordan Woods-Robinson
Writer: Jon Binkowski
Director: Jon Binkowski
Distributer: horror movies
Release date: May 27, 2022 (Terror Films Channel); June 3¸, 2022 (wide and digital VOD); original theatrical release June 10, 2010

SCARY ZONE is a solid (but not exemplary) example of the horror subgenre that takes place in spooky Halloween attractions. Originally published in 2010, SCARY ZONE is now distributed on VOD and digital by Terror Films, which also hosts the film on its own channel.

SCARY ZONE has the advantage, like that of 2006 A DARK JOURNEY, to be partially shot in a theme park, here Universal Studios Orlando. Director/writer Jon Binkowski derives great production value from a number of well-crafted sets. The premise is that entrepreneur Oliver Peters (Simon Needham) produces a horror maze in a mall, the Scare Zone, which is open for three nights, culminating on Halloween.

It’s Scare Zone’s third year, as we’re told at the top by Spider (Neil Brown Jr.), Oliver’s right-hand man. Other Scare Zone veterans are performer Summer (Michele Feren) and goth cashier Claire (Arian Ash). Between them, they instruct “cast” newbies in their roles: vampire, mad doctor, living autopsy victim, and so on. There are also rules – don’t touch customers, don’t go wild with guns, etc.

But even before Scare Zone opens for its first night of the new year, audiences know there’s a killer on the loose. Who is it, and why are they killing?

The SCARY ZONE labyrinth is respectable in itself. However, Binkowski doesn’t use it in such a way that the main characters are confused as to what is fake and what is real blood, limbs, etc. This negates one of the main story potentials of the setting.

In fact, Binkowski aims to do something more character-driven than usual. Her intentions are good, as is Ash’s performance as the troubled Claire. However, it goes just far enough to make it seem like there should be a stronger bridge between this aspect of SCARY ZONE and the killer’s motives. Once the reveals begin, we have more questions than we’d like.

The gore is plentiful and effective. Needham gives Oliver a kind of sweet enthusiasm, which makes us believe in his “the show must go on” philosophy. Brown also scores as the Crafty Spider.

In some ways, SCARY ZONE looks like it could be a lot older than it is. There are cellphones out there to let us know we’re in the 21st century, but a lot of the elements look like they’re from the 70s. the editing and pacing are also retro.

This extends to sensitivities regarding women. There’s also a running gag with Spanish-speaking workers engaging in stereotyping, but not overtly negative.

What’s oddest, though perhaps in keeping with how the plot doesn’t make the most of the setting, is that there aren’t a lot of jumps. Binkowski scores a few, but often establishes where a threat will come from rather than looking for surprise.

What’s better SCARY ZONE is his love for the genre. It’s easy to imagine the driven Oliver being a stand-in for filmmaker Binkowski, rolling with whatever obstacles come his way to ensure his audience gets their Halloween treats.

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