If only we could have seen all the signs. The lame title, the minimal word-of-mouth, the cast mysteriously saturated with known names. It was a recipe for disaster. And I owe Efrit an apology for talking him into giving it a shot. But Into the Grizzly Maze did provide us an opportunity to cover a sad pattern that befalls some of the unfortunate of Hollywood.
Some actors are incapable of saying "no". It doesn't matter how many Oscars they have, it doesn't matter how much money they've made over the years, even their prestige amongst the acting community and movie-going public is expendable. If only they approve every role they are offered. At first you think, "Really? That movie?" But then, after the fourth or fifth time you realize this actor has simply become...one of them.
Nicolas Cage is often considered the poster child for never saying "no". He removed "no" from his vocabulary to the point that his career became virtually worthless to all productions with decent budgets and coherent scripts. Now, he turns out garbage by the day because, like an addiction, he's in too deep to stop. If he stops saying "yes" now, he won't have any roles to take.
And on the other side of things you have the Morgan Freemans and Michael Cains. They are going to appear in every movie, but their roles are such that your reaction is, at worst, neutral to their presence. Why is it some actors are able to transcend this spiraling "yessing" into continuing success where others fall into acting oblivion?
Billy Bob Thornton might hold the key. He joins James Marsden (Cyclops in the X-Men movies), Thomas Jane (a younger Ron Perlman), and Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly...and The Cave wasn't bad for a PG-13 monster movie) in arguably one of the most poorly directed low-budget thrillers of the past decade. The creature effects, writing, and cinematography was irritatingly awful. The actors all looked broken half-way through the production. The entire time you're watching you begin to think, "this director must've blackmailed someone to get this budget."
But then, I started to think about it. Are these actors really that untouchable? I mean, Marsden is best known for his one-dimensional, emotionless turn as Cyclops. Perabo peaked in 2000 and has been a mediocre supporting cast member ever since. Thomas Jane is, as much as I love him and his films, a notch above Perlman on the cult film fetish addiction. And then we have Billy Bob Thornton. Billy Bob, the perennial dickhead of film, hasn't exactly graced us with an award-winning performance for some time. So, after little wondering, I concluded that this film makes perfect sense based on the overall quality of the cast and their relatively poor decision-making over the years.
That isn't to say there aren't fantastic moments for some of them. For example, Perabo had supporting appearances in The Cave, Looper, Carriers, and a most excellent non-horror film The Prestige. Thomas Jane is in so many guilty-pleasure films; The Punisher, The Mist, Dreamcatcher, Killshot, Mutant Chronicles...Marsden was...John Wilkes Booth in Zoolander...?
Boy, I've writtent this entire thing and barely talked about the movie itself. It was garbage. Save yourself the time.