When Dave’s girlfriend Annie returns home from a weekend away, she finds that her boyfriend has passed the time by building a seemingly pointless cardboard fort in the middle of their apartment. Irritated by this unnecessary obstruction to her living area, she asks him to come out, but he tells her he can’t as the fort is deceptively big and he has managed to get lost inside it. She eventually calls for back up, and a team of them enter the maze, only to find that this statement is most certainly true.
One thing that must be said about this film off the bat is that the sets are incredibly impressive. Predominantly made out of cardboard, each room of Dave’s maze is an all-new, awe-inspiring piece of set design. We see puppetry, stop motion animation and exciting camera tricks, making ‘Dave Made a Maze’, if nothing else, a real feast for the eyes. What can become grating, however, are the characters and their vaguely irritating dialogue. Whether the praiseworthy visuals compensate for what is lacking in script and likeable personalities is purely dependant on your limits.
The title character, Dave, is a struggling artist type who struggles to finish any of his projects and is sick of being reliant on his parents money. When his latest creation begins transforming into a kind of house of horrors funfair installation and killing off his friends, he decides that he must ‘finish’ it in order to stop whatever force is trying to hurt them. Whether the maze-cum-labyrinth is a metaphor for this inability to complete, or if this figment of his imagination that begins to destroy itself is a metaphor for self-sabotage could be pondered upon, but in the end we don’t really care. It is difficult to be particularly invested in the fate of the characters, but at least we are provided with a much-needed antidote to these aspects in the commendable aesthetics.
A comedic camera crew, who probably provide the most laughs in the film, hear about the maze and follow the gang around, desperate to get some screen-worthy emotions from the gang. Whilst Dave’s rapport with the token best friend, Gordon (Adam Busch), might be annoying at times, the interviewer (played by James Urbaniak) and his crew do provide at least a bit of comic relief, shoving a boom in the characters’ faces at every opportunity.
Instead of a gripping plot and moving characters that we really invest in and want to succeed, this is an experience not unlike moving through rooms at an art gallery, marvelling at what is presented to us. We explore Dave’s maze, accompanied by a few people whose conversations are slightly vexing and we wish wouldn’t speak so much, but we don’t mind too much that they are there, as we are distracted by quite a wonderful creation.
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