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Dave Made A Maze (2017) Review

Inventive and highly-imaginative comedy adventure set inside cardboard boxes.

Dave Made A Maze is a 2017 comedy/horror film about an artist who builds a fort in his living room out of pure frustration, only to wind up trapped by the fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation.

Who says originality is dead at the movies? Sure, blockbusters might seem ground out of a machine, but there is hope out there and leading the charge right now is Bill Watterson‘s Dave Made A Maze, a spectacularly inventive minor masterpiece that speaks much about the state of the creative mind, set in a bizarre cardboard fantasy full of misdirection and irrationality. In short, it’s a real trip.

Dave (Nick Thune) is introduced in a brief opening stint that seems to follow or be in part of the coming events. He’s being interviewed and is highly agitated before walking off, apologizing for deaths that might have occurred because of him. We then cut to a few days earlier when Dave, now seen in an animated title sequence, stifled by his unfinished productivity, decides to build a maze. His girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) arrives home from a trip to discover a giant cardboard contraption in her living room, sort of a steampunk castle taped and glued together. From inside, she hears Dave call out that he is lost and that she should not come in or try to tear it down. Friends arrive, including Gordon (Adam Busch) and it’s not long before everyone jumps in to rescue Dave. What they find on the inside is a wondrous nightmare of horrors guarded by a minotaur. It’s much larger on the inside.

Dave Made A Maze is entirely absurd of course where the dense labyrinth is filled with cardboard creations of extraordinary delights, from rooms with origami birds that flutter about to one where the people turn into puppets to one where they flicker in black and white to another that is an undulating wall sized cardboard creation of a woman’s well, um you get the idea. That last one is funny as it hypnotizes any who stands and take a look. Others are deadly, a series of boobie traps that lop off heads though oddly, it’s nothing but streams of red yarn that squirts from their necks. Are they really dead? The gang quickly accept their fates and resign themselves to find a way out, exploring and realizing that the structure has taken on a life of its own, fueled by Dave’s imagination and his feelings of failure and limitations.

Dave Made a Maze
Dave Made a Maze, 2017 © Butter Stories

A stunning achievement in production design, Dave Made a Maze never tries to be too ambiguous with its message, having characters out right say to him what we are all thinking and it’s funny because well, duh. That’s the point. Life is full of unfinished work. Thankfully, Watterson and writer Steven Sears never take it too seriously, with tongue firmly in cheek throughout. Dave’s friend and documentarian Harry (James Urbaniak), along with his cameraman and boom operator, follow the whole action, stopping once in awhile to interview people as they go and Urbaniak is quite funny, clinical in his approach to the spectacle happening all around him, ‘directing’ everyone with tips on reactions and things to say “in your own words” wherever they go. 

It’s not going to be for everyone, no doubt. This is a highly experimental film that is as satirical as it is on the nose. It isn’t long, running 80 minutes and that’s probably just as well, as we ‘get it’ from the start, however it is consistently entertaining and often very funny, cleverly finding inspiring way to make used cardboard inventive. It’s trippy, fresh and one to watch.

Dave Made A Maze (2017) Review

Movie description: Dave Made A Maze is a 2017 comedy/horror film about an artist who builds a fort in his living room out of pure frustration, only to wind up trapped by the fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation.

Director(s): Bill Watterson

Actor(s): Kirsten Vangsness, John Hennigan, James Urbaniak

Genre: Comedy, Horror

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  1. Melanie Anstett August 30, 2017