I’ve wanted to see Dave Made A Maze for quite some time, since I first saw the trailer over a year ago now. It looked bizarre, it looked strange, it looked fun, it looked right up my street.
Director, and co-writer, Bill Watterson along with co-writer Steven Sears (“Take Back The Couch (Short)”), have created something as surreal as you can imagine. It’s full of darkly comic touches, mixed with anxiety, surrealism and some brilliant set design.
Dave, Nick Thune (“Dreamland”, “American Dad! (TV)”), is a man who starts a lot, but finishes little. Whilst his girlfriend Annie, Meera Rohit Kumbhani (“Donny! (TV)”, “The Mindy Project (TV)”), is the one who works and pays the bills.
Whilst Annie is away one weekend, Dave builds a cardboard fortress in their living room. Only, this isn’t an ordinary fortress of cardboard, in fact it’s a maze; full of puzzles and traps that, somehow, is larger on the inside than the outside, has taken on a life of its own and there’s a minotaur inside feeding on humans.
Dave, from inside the maze, asks Annie to phone his friend Gordon, Adam Busch (“Colony (TV)”, “Leon“), who subsequently phones everyone else, including their documentary making friend Harry, James Urbaniak (“Happy Baby”, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine (TV)”).
Despite Dave’s insistence that no-one enter the maze, eventually Annie decides she must in order to save him, and this prompts everyone else to follow her. This happens early in the film and it’s where Dave Made A Maze begins to get fully surreal.
Gordon, Annie a cameraman and boom operator begin wondering around the maze, trying to find Dave, whilst more of their friends, and some random Flemish tourists, enter and have a wonder around too.
Inside, everything is cardboard, or paper, or variations thereof. There are traps, enticements, spinning things, trip-wires and much more, all seemingly alive, all seemingly wanting to kill.
There’s also a wonderful scene where the gang end up turned into cardboard. It’s as surreal as it sounds, but very cleverly done.
Kumbhani is perfect as Annie, she seems to just shrug, roll her eyes and get on with jumping into a big cardboard maze, as if to say: “oh well, that’s just Dave”. Thune and Busch perform their geek roles well and Urbaniak acts like you’d imagine a pretentious director to act.
Dave Made A Maze won’t be to everyone’s taste, but with just a one hour and 20-minute run-time, there are far worse ways to spend your time.
It’s well acted, well written, funny, surreal and has fantastic wobbly sets, even a rude bit made of cardboard. What more could you ask for?