WHAT’S THE DEAL: A creative underachiever’s procrastination project in his living room turns out to be Tardis-like labyrinth where booby traps, comedy, and danger lurk around every corner for the friends who try to rescue him. Oh yeah, and there’s a bloodthirsty Minotaur.
WHY SEE IT: An interesting and creative premise for a film that is clearly a labor of love — kind of an indie comedy take on CUBE and LABYRINTH, with a touch of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and Terry Gilliam insanity thrown in for good measure — DAVE MADE A MAZE is an amusing diversion for fans of budget filmmaking who can appreciate a smirk-inducing comedy with a light touch of horror and fantasy.
THE FLICK FLACK: Is DAVE MADE A MAZE a-MAZE-ing? The jury is still out, but I sure found it to be a fun watch. Though the opening minutes of the film gloss over the characters’ likely real-world responses to the supernatural oddity that is Dave’s Maze, I played along and was soon rewarded with a nice mixture of believable reactions and suspensions of disbelief. Overall, I was struck by the surprisingly thoughtful production design of this film and the filmmakers’ efforts to entertain with the use of puppetry, stop-motion animation, and other clever in-camera tricks.
The Maze, a living entity, is of course a convoluted reflection of Dave’s (Nick Thune) mindset and the creative process, and it’s a fun deep dive. There are nice little movie references sprinkled about. It’s fun to see the little personalities of the various inanimate objects that come to life. The film plays with spacial visual relationships for the benefit of the viewer. And the ensemble cast (including Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Adam Busch, and Scott Krinsky) delivers engaging, grounded performances. I also loved the conceit of having a documentary filmmaker (James Urbaniak) trying to direct everyone’s reactions as they explored the maze and bumbled through booby traps. Still, I wish the film’s sense of humor was a little more fine-tuned and as thought-out as The Maze itself.
NOTABLE NOTES: The result of a significant amount of dumpster diving to be sure, director Bill Watterson’s feature debut employed more than 30,000 square feet of cardboard — all scrapped and donated —to fabricate over 20 unique sets for the film. Inspired by ‘80s adventure films like THE GOONIES and LEGEND and the big-screen work of Jim Henson and Ray Harryhausen, the film has won a number of festival awards, including the Slamdance Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.
MORE INFO: davemadeamaze.com
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