“Dave Made A Maze” requires a lot of your imagination. If you are allergic to cardboard, try something different.
The concept of “Dave Made A Maze” is highly dependent on viewer’s imagination, with the budget constraint being a pain in you-know-where. However, there is a list of films, that managed to brilliantly sail this imaginary ship. “Dave Made A Maze”, although lacking in substance and character design, buys the audience with fabulous visuals – the storm sometimes hits hard, but this ship still sails.
The titular character – Dave – indeed built a maze. His maze is nothing like you have ever seen before – everything is built out of cardboard. Unfortunately, Dave gets trapped in his own creation and seems to be unable to find a way out. A rescue team, consisting of his girlfriend, a close friend, a filming team and even some random Flemish tourists, enters the labyrinth in order to find Dave.
In the first scene, Dave confesses to the camera that “if only he could finish the maze, things wouldn’t go so berserk-bad”. Before the director Bill Watterson brings the pack into the maze, he firstly spends some brief minutes to give a sense of what they are like – a geeky friend Gordon (Adam Busch), a stereotype filmmaker-wannabee Harry (James Urbaniak) with his clueless crew, a bunch of Flemish tourists, who happen to be invited to a random house (I too have no clue…), a chubby-and-noisy friend of… someone (?) and a hipster couple. They are all led by Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani), Dave’s I-am-strong-and-independent partner.
This motley crew gets on wheels the moment they enter the maze. It is also a moment, when the viewer is freed from painful and corny comedy bits. The main character becomes the maze itself and – truth be told – it’s one heck of a protagonist. The imaginary labyrinth is a tremendous piece of set design – the cardboard walls meticulously glued together, with colorful boxes used as a construction material are only the beginning. The maze seems truly exit-less, with every chamber being weirder than the previous one. There is space for a maze-in-maze, a techno-club interior with feminine figures dancing on the wall and a hole disturbingly reminding of a vagina. There is a bit of horror even, provided by some weird creatures living in the labyrinth too. Wandering in these rooms with the rescue team, the viewer might feel as if the question – what would happen if the creators of “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” would get a film – is being partially answered in “Dave Made A Maze”.
However, this variation on “Alice in Wonderland” lacks in plot. Dave’s life quandaries are simply daft, as he mentions being on his parents “payroll” and not being able to finish anything. The maze – even if it kills – brings Dave to the point where he finally manages to finish something. Fine, but it sounds totally out-of-shape, even for a guy, who couldn’t care less about his alleged acquaintances. The are also some plotholes, which more often than not, exist due to an overwhelming focus on the comedy aspects.
Finally, there is also the problem with Dave’s girlfriend. The little time spent on their fragile bond is not enough to fully examine it, which is a pity as it could give Watterson’s film in-depth look into the main characters. If Dave really had a reason to hide in a cardboard maze, the plot would gain in substance. Without it, “Dave Made a Maze” is a spectacle of absolutely cool, extremely kitschy stuff that would fit an episode of “Goosebumps” just fine. As a standalone movie, you take the risk yourself to enter the maze.
Dave Made A Maze (2017)
Dir. Bill Watterson
Cast: Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Nick Thune, Adam Busch
Hate Grade: 4.5/10