Few things in life are harder than coming to terms with the fact you may never reach your dreams. We all have a vision for ourselves, but not everyone grows up to become that person. Dave (Nick Thune) is currently grappling with this realization himself, and his attempts to ignore the issue has caused his deepest fears to manifest as a murderous, cardboard labyrinth that fits inside his living room.
And as if that were not bad enough, there is also a minotaur.
Dave Made A Maze is the kind of film that makes someone a believer in the power of cinema and restores the faith of those already converted. Director Bill Watterson and writer Steven Sears have delivered a wildly original vision that defies genre classification, brought to life on a tight budget with a dynamically talented cast who fully commit to the absurd premise of the narrative.
The film wastes no time introducing Dave’s maze as Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) discovers the creation nestled on the floor of the apartment she shares with Dave in the film’s opening moments. She doesn’t believe Dave when he tells her that he is lost inside because the maze looks to be only slightly larger than Dave himself. She calls a friend for help, who in turn calls an amateur documentary film crew and a few more friends, and soon they all commit to entering Dave’s creation together in order to help him find his way out.
As with Doctor Who’s Tardis or Newt Scamander’s briefcase, the world inside Dave’s labyrinth is far bigger than anyone could have predicted. It’s an unending string of puzzles and elaborate design that carries its fair share of booby traps all brought to life through the use of cardboard and a handful of small digital effects. It looks innocent, but when the body count begins to rise everyone inside Dave’s maze must work together if they hope to make it out alive.
Thune, already an accomplished comedian and storyteller in his own right, feels right at home in the bizarre world of Dave’s maze. He possesses an everyman quality that allows him to continuously catch you by surprise with a well-timed quip or anecdotal observation. His talent here is perfectly matched with the charming curiosity that Kumbhani is able to convey, and together they help create an emotional base for the film that keeps things grounded just enough to keep your heart string in a knot.
I wish every movie could be as fun as Dave Made A Maze. Thinly veiled metaphors for growing up and giving up on the thing you thought you would become are a dime a dozen these days, but here Watterson and Sears are able to make an incredibly familiar concept feel new once more. Through the use of puppetry, stop-motion animation, and a variety of optical illusions, the pair create a world of wonder targeted at adults who believe that faith in the impossible no longer exists within themselves. To say more about their cinematic ingenuity would only ruin what they clearly worked incredibly hard to prepare.
Don’t read another word about this movie. Instead, do whatever you must to see it on the biggest screen available as soon as humanly possible. You can thank me later.