‘Dave Made A Maze’ Review: Get Lost In Quirkiness

Dave Made a Maze Review
out of 5

Every once in a while, a film comes along that challenges our perceptions of storytelling, visual or otherwise. These few-and-far-between films force the audience to reflect, and ask ourselves some tough questions. Last year, that film was arguably Swiss Army Man, and this year, the award for quirkiest, thought-provoking film goes to Dave Made a Maze.

Dave Made a Maze stars Nick Thune as Dave, a creative type who has trouble finishing projects. One weekend, his girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) goes out of town, and Dave sets out to create a maze in his living room using cardboard boxes. Unfortunately, Dave succeeds and loses himself in his self-created corrugated labyrinth. When Annie returns to find what looks like an intricate cardboard fort in the middle of her living room floor, she soon discovers the truth — that Dave is inexplicably stuck inside the maze he created — a maze that shouldn’t even be a maze, since from the outside, it looks like three taped together refrigerator boxes.

Dave Made a Maze Review

Annie assembles a team of Dave’s friends, including best friend Gordon (Adam Busch), a documentary film crew led by Harry (James Urbaniak), the lead singer of OK GO, two Finnish tourists, and more, and together, they venture into Dave’s cardboard maze to rescue their friend.

Dave Made a Maze Review

Dave Made a Maze challenges the viewer to disregard conventions and to meet the film at its level. No one questions that this fridge-box maze has myriad rooms, tunnels, traps and even a minotaur (John Hennigan), or questions that Dave may be certifiably insane. The film just happens, and takes the audience along for a wonderful journey that hits some pretty personal notes for any creative type. In fact, weeks after seeing the film, one line still haunts me. Paraphrased, the line, “life is a series of unfinished moments” rings so very true to me, and that point — and the overall theme of Dave Made a Maze — resonated deeply with me.

Dave Made a Maze Review

The direction by Bill Watterson (not THAT Bill Watterson), who also contributed to the story, is near perfect for the quirkiness of the idea behind Dave Made a Maze. Inside the titular labyrinth, there are intricate traps, and one room even turns the group into handpuppets. Everything turns surreal inside the box, and the audience is gleefully forced to watch in wonder as people die in gruesome ways and the blood is represented by red confetti streamers, and nobody bats an eyelash at it at all.

The art direction and sets are works of art in and of themselves, with some rooms taking inspiration from popular works of art and films, including Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The use of cardboard and various other paper products commonly found around the house gives the sets a sense of unique and wonderful paper crafting. Dave’s maze looks like it could be a fun place to get lost in, if not for the murderous minotaur wandering the hallways.

Dave Made a Maze Review

The script by Steven Sears doesn’t dumb anything done, or overly spoon-feed the audience, letting us choose exactly what we want to take from the film. The performances from the ensemble cast, and the stellar music help make Dave Made a Maze one of the best, most unique films of 2017. This is the best cinematic maze since Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrence froze to death outside the Overlook Hotel.

Dave Made a Maze looks, sounds, and feels like a vanity project made by a bunch of friends in Silver Lake over a couple of weekends, as directed by the guy who makes all of the OK GO music videos, but underneath the surface, there lies an incredibly deep and heartfelt story that pulses with creativity seldom seen in Hollywood films these days. It’s opening in limited run this weekend, after a very successful festival circuit run, and I encourage you to seek it out and to see it on a big screen. If that is impossible, keep it on your mind for a home video release or to stream. However the method, just see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Dave Made a Maze is in theaters on August 18 in a limited run.


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