Synopsis: Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, 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.
Release Date: August 18, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Adventure, Comedy
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that is so quirky, so wacky, so bat-shit insane, that its entire existence is brought into question. Dave Made a Maze is one of those movies.
Dave Made a Maze is about a downtrodden guy, Dave (Nick Thune), who builds a cardboard fort in the living room of his apartment. But this is no average, run-of-the-mill children’s cardboard fort. Dave’s fort is a masterpiece, a magical place with hundreds of rooms and hallways – a maze. Unfortunately, Dave gets lost in his cardboard fort (“It’s much bigger on the inside!”). Dave’s girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani), assembles a team of Dave’s friends and, against Dave’s best advice, they venture into the maze and look for him. Once inside, they discover why Dave warned them not to come in – the fort is an endless labyrinth full of deadly booby-traps. There’s even a Minotaur (professional wrestler John Morrison, aka John Hennigan) lurking inside the maze. Annie and company have to locate Dave and find their way back out while avoiding all of the perilous pitfalls of the maze that Dave made.
Dave Made a Maze is the brainchild of writer/director Bill Watterson (who is better known as an actor from his bits parts in Ouija and Jersey Boys) and his writing partner Steven Sears (who made the short film Take Back the Couch). And what a nutty collective brain they have! Dave Made a Maze is the type of movie that keeps getting crazier and crazier, and just when the audience thinks that it can’t get any crazier, it does. It’s a difficult movie to pin down – it’s equal parts adventure, horror, romance, and comedy, all wrapped up into a neat little faux-children’s show package. One with a Minotaur and some cornily cheesy, graphically violent death scenes.
It’s not all abject insanity, though. Well, it is, but there’s a lot of charming heart and soul in Dave Made a Maze as well. It’s just hidden behind all of the cardboard craziness. Truth be told, the endless sea of cardboard gimmick does get a bit old, and the movie gets to a point where not much is happening, particularly once the rescue party finds Dave and he sinks into an existential self-crisis. But that’s when the viewer just sits back and marvels at how wondrous it is that a movie like Dave Made a Maze even got made in the first place. To everyone who has ever build an ambitious cardboard box fort in their living room as a kid, this one’s for you.
The production design for Dave Made a Maze was done by Trisha Gum (“Robot Chicken”), John Sumner (“Buddy Thunderstruck”), and Jeff White (“Tumble Leaf”). The names of these seemingly random crew members are worth mentioning because they, along with director Bill Watterson, do some amazing things with a bunch of plain old cardboard boxes. All of the rooms and corridors in the maze that Dave made were constructed out of cardboard that was dumpster-dived (with permission, of course) by the crew from local businesses, so no matter how elaborate the box fort is, it still retains the authentic look and feel of, well, a box fort. But, like Dave says, “it’s bigger on the inside,” and the structure includes room after room of creatively lit tunnels, graffiti plastered wall paintings, and ingeniously engineered contraptions – there’s a movie theater in there, for crying out loud! There’s even a smaller maze inside the maze. And it’s all cardboard, and better yet, all of the cardboard ended up back in the recycling dumpsters at the end of the shoot. Not only was the crew behind Dave Made a Maze creative and economical, they were ecological as well.
It’s a little weird that Dave Made a Maze is gaining traction in the horror community. There’s nothing scary about it. Sure, it’s got a monster, and there are a handful of Saw-like traps sprinkled throughout the movie, but the visual effects are as silly as the premise of the movie, so there’s very little (if anything) to be afraid of. This by no means should stop horror fans from seeing it – it would actually work well on a double bill with something equally wacky like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil or What We Do in the Shadows. But as far as being scary goes, it isn’t.
There’s nothing quite like Dave Made a Maze. There’s sections of live action, puppetry, stop-motion, even found footage, all seamlessly intertwined into a coherent, albeit completely nutso, story. It has the visual aesthetic of a fan made rip-off of something like Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s done much better, pays way more attention to detail, and is a lot more fun. It uses snippets of everything from Greek mythology to 2001: A Space Odyssey without ever feeling like a knockoff of anything else. It wears its influences on its sleeve, yet manages to combine them into something completely different. Love it or hate it, you’ve never seen anything quite like Dave Made a Maze.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Bill Watterson
- Screenwriter(s): Bill WattersonSteven Sears
- Story: Steven Sears
- Cast: Nick Thune (Dave)Kirsten Vangsness (Jane)Stephanie Allynne (Brynn) James Urbaniak (Harry)Adam Busch (Gordon)Scott Krinsky (Leonard)Meera Rohit Kumbhani (Annie)Timothy Nordwind (Greg)Rick Overton (Hobo)John Hennigan (The Minotaur)
- Editor(s): David Egan
- Cinematographer: Jon Boal
- Production Designer(s): John Sumner
- Costume Designer: Daniel Selon
- Casting Director(s): Lordan Napoli
- Music Score: Mondo Boys
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA