As kids, we all made forts in our parent’s living rooms or rearranged the furniture into mazes and obstacle courses. And aided by our imagination we had endless adventures in them. But suppose we didn’t need our imagination because our creations became real? Director Bill Watterson takes that question on in his debut film DAVE MADE A MAZE and has a lot of fun answering it.
Dave (Nick Thune 61: HIGHWAY TO HELL) is an artist who can never seem to see any of his projects through. Much to the annoyance of his girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani), he jumps from project to project like a kid with ADD in a forest full of squirrels. Left alone for the weekend he begins building a cardboard maze in their living room. However, it takes on a life of its own and like Dr. Who’s TARDIS is much larger on the inside than the outside.
With Dave lost in his own creation Annie, Gordon (Adam Busch LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL) along with a film crew and assorted followers mount a rescue mission and become lost too. Trapped in a maze filled with booby traps and, like any self-respecting labyrinth a Minotaur (John Hennigan MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, NEVER LEAVE ALIVE). And it seems the only way out is for Dave to finally finish what he’s started.
DAVE MADE A MAZE is a fun film, full of imaginative low budget effects involving puppetry, stop-motion and practical makeup that are both charming and menacing at the same time. From the origami birds that attack them to deadly cardboard spikes that impale an unlucky searcher, they are like something out of a malevolent child’s art project. Even the actual violence is rendered this way with victims gushing red yarn and confetti while ending up quite just as dead as if it were blood. And after seeing one inventive set piece you’ll never hear “It’s a trap!” the same way.
At a brisk 80 minutes, the film doesn’t outstay it’s welcome or past the point where you can suspend your disbelief. And by keeping itself light even when dealing with more serious matters it never lets itself bog down or become preachy.
I caught DAVE MADE A MAZE at this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and it’s currently in release from Gravitas Ventures.