The makers of the bear rampage movie "Into the Grizzly Maze" couldn't have announced their influences more clearly if they'd named their movie "Claws": a small town terrorized, concerned citizens (James Marsden's ex-con prodigal son, Thomas Jane's eco-friendly deputy sheriff) torn over how best to combat a creature's wrath, and a feared, questionably sane Quint-like hunter (crazy-eyed Billy Bob Thornton, enjoying every silly threat he utters).
The elements are there for an old-fashioned animal-as-serial-killer romp, just regrettably given a formulaic telling and poorly assembled by director David Hackl ("Saw V") to resemble a rushed TV movie. Though it was filmed in beautiful British Columbia, the actors are photographed so closely as their characters brave an ursine menace's stomping grounds that it could have been shot on soundstages.
The grizzly attacks, meanwhile, are haphazardly shot and edited in the current vogue for chaos over clarity, a far cry from the artful yet brutal immediacy of the bear violence in the nature-kills indie "Backcountry" from this year. Here, rarely do you sense that any key performer was ever in the vicinity of a real animal. You'd be more likely to believe Patty Duke had an identical cousin.
"Into the Grizzly Maze"
MPAA rating: R for violence, grisly images, language, brief sexuality and nudity.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.