Mazes are hard enough without mean-spirited designers screwing with them. Seriously, building a labyrinth is bad enough, but did you have to put a minotaur in it? That’s just playing dirty. But playing dirty is fair game for filmmakers, who have repeatedly built movie mazes that are just as difficult as they are deadly, or at the very least have moving walls just to screw with the hapless protagonists trapped within them.
The latest in a long line of movie mazes,
, is all about the mystery of its labyrinth: a towering and confusing series of walls which move at night and harbor vicious monsters called “Grievers” that terrorize the teenaged inhabitants living in the center. Why are they here? What’s the deal with that freaking maze anyway? The Maze Runner
The answers, sadly, are
, but the maze itself is a real thrill and it made all of us here at CraveOnline want to look back at the history of movie mazes. Not just any old mazes though: the toughest movie mazes in the history of the cinematic medium. (Sorry William Cameron Menzies, but laughable The Maze just wasn’t difficult enough to qualify.)
So grab your bread crumbs or magical ball of twine and delve into the perilous twists and turns of the most dastardly labyrinths that filmmakers have ever devised. You might like what you find… but you may lose your sanity in the process.
Slideshow: The 11 Toughest Movie Mazes
William Bibbiani is the editor of
and the host of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and The B-Movies Podcast . Follow him on Twitter at The Blue Movies Podcast . @WilliamBibbiani
The 11 Toughest Movie Mazes
11. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning fantasy, set against the backdrop of the early Francoist period after the Spanish Civil War, stars Ivana Banquero as a young girl who must complete three seemingly impossible tasks to earn immortality from a faun who resides in a nearby labyrinth. If we were ranking these movies based on quality,
Pan's Labyrinth would be near the top of the list, but the labyrinth by itself just doesn't seem very difficult to solve.
10. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick eschewed the malevolent topiary animals of Stephen King's bestseller in favor of a creepy hedge maze adjacent to the haunted Overlook Hotel. The hedge maze allegedly takes a couple of hours to solve, but by the end of this terrifying horror film it becomes abundantly clear that at least one member of the ill-fated Torrance family won't be making it out alive.
9. Inception (2010)
The mindscapes of Christopher Nolan's
Inception are built by a master maze maker. What's worse, they cheat. (Don't believe us? Look at that maze in DiCaprio's hands and work your way backwards... there's no escape.) Warping the laws of space with paradoxical layouts, the labyrinths of Inception will break your brain, but there's always an easy way out: kill yourself. (Editor's Note: Do NOT test this out at home.)
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
The final trial in the Tri-Wizard Tournament - a magical competition in the world of J.K. Rowling's
Harry Potter movies and novels - is a giant hedge maze that tests every magical skill its contestants are supposed to have in their arsenal. It's a tough maze even if you have the right skills, but it's not supposed to be deadly. Alas, "supposed" is the operative word in that statement.
7. Labyrinth (1986)
Jim Henson's classic fantasy
Labyrinth is supposed to be confusing, challenging the film's heroine - a young Jennifer Connelly - to think logically, and sometimes illogically, to find her way to the center and rescue her infant brother. It's a difficult journey, but the worst that can happen to you is a dip in the Bog of Eternal Stench. But apparently that's enough...
6. Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
The deadly maze in Steve Beck's annoyingly titled
Thir13en Ghosts is a tough one. Like many of the labyrinths on our list, the walls moving (like it isn't hard enough!), but unlike the rest this one is also populated by ghosts... some of whom are unstoppable murderers. It sure is pretty though.
5. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Tony Randel's interpretation of Hell as a
grand guignol labyrinth is arguably the scariest ever put on camera, filled with shocking monsters and personifications of your deepest nightmares. For some reason the heroes have a pretty easy time navigating it, however. You'd think Hell would be just a teensy bit harder to escape.
4. Wrath of the Titans (2012)
The swiftly forgotten sequel to the wretched remake of
Clash of the Titans was better than the original, and its interpretation of the classic labyrinth from Greek mythology was an eerie centerpiece. Built as a gateway to Tartarus, you can only navigate this sucker if Hephaestus himself shows you the way. Plus there's that damned minotaur and all the moving floors. If you're not on a mission from gods, it's probably best not to bother trying to solve it.
3. Cube (1997)
Vincenzo Natali's clever sci-fi puzzler
Cube has one of the niftiest mazes ever devised. The heroes are placed in a large cube with six doors that lead to other cubes, each of them with six doors leading to other cubes, and so on. That would be bad enough, but many of the cubes also have vicious death traps, and the only way to figure out which cube is which requires math so complicated you just might starve to death before you work out all the equations. And what's that strange whirring noise...?
2. Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)
Andrzej Sekula's sequel to
Cube isn't as good as its predecessor, but it features an even more impossible labyrinth of cubes, this time existing in a theoretical space where the laws of physics don't always seem to apply. Deadly and baffling, Cube 2: Hypercube is still a corking little thriller, but only the maze itself is better than the original.
1. Dark City (1998)
Alex Proyas's inspired sci-fi/horror hybrid
Dark City features the most dastardly of mazes: the kind you don't even know you're in. The title city resides in perpetual darkness, ruled by Nosferatu-like persecutors who change the landscape and reality itself at their whims, and the shocking revelation of what's at the end of the labyrinth is both beautiful and terribly, horribly sad. The worst kind of maze is one that you regret solving in the first place.