“Dave Made a Maze” ATLFF Movie Review

Dave Made a Maze ATLFF Movie Review

Dave Made a Maze

Photo courtesy of Photon Pictures

Film is reviewed from the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival screening.

Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) comes home with her suitcase in tow to her apartment that she shares with her boyfriend Dave (Nick Thune). She opens the door and is hit with the scene of a bunch of cardboard boxes in the middle of her living room, all interconnected in some sort of fort-like shape. There are smokestacks, fans and a blanketed entrance that is marked with a lit sign that says, “Enter Here.”

She shouts out for Dave, and he answers from inside the cardboard structure. They exchange a bit of pleasantries, and then Annie asks what he is doing inside the boxes in her living room. He explains that he is in the process of building a maze. When Annie tells him to come out, he explains that he can’t, he is lost, can’t find his way out and has also hurt his hand. Annie learns that he has been building the maze for three straight days, having survived on some trail mix. Concerned, Annie shakes one of the corners of the maze, and a horrible noise comes from inside the boxes, with Dave shouting at her to stop doing that. Annie wants Dave to just come out, via cutting his way out or just lifting the boxes up and crawling under, but Dave explains that the maze is much larger inside that it appears outside, plus he wants to finish it. He is a little concerned about not eating and asks Annie to call Gordon to come over.

Dave Made a Maze

Photo courtesy of Photon Pictures

Gordon (Adam Busch) arrives sees the boxes and immediately does the same thing that Annie tried, shaking the boxes and getting the horrible noise inside the maze. He talks to Dave, going over various scenarios, most of which he had just discussed with Annie. Dave suggests going into the maze, which Dave tells him that you will get lost exactly like me, plus there are a bunch of booby traps, and he could get hurt. Gordon’s solution is to call a bunch more friends over, including a filmmaker (James Urbaniak) and his crew (Frank Caeti, Scott Narver) a couple of Flemish tourists (Drew Knigga, Kamilla Aines) , two friends who finish their sentences together (Stephanie Allynne, Timothy Nordwind) and a hobo (Rick Overton) from the street that claims he has experience with mazes. After listening to everyone with their theories on how to help Dave, Annie decides to pack a few things in a backpack and go into the maze to find Dave. It’s a trip that Annie, Dave and the rest of the gang won’t ever forget.

Dave Made a Maze

Photo courtesy of Photon Pictures

Bill Watterson makes an impressive directorial debut with the highly creative and amusing Dave Made a Maze. It’s hard to describe this film since it involves the construction of imaginative sets that used 3,000 glue sticks and over 30,000 square feet of cardboard. The maze Dave has created is seemingly endless with rooms that have themes, such as a room made from the cardboard of an electronic piano, where the keys in the cardboard play notes, or a room filled with a giant cardboard face that spits up origami birds which magically come to life. The characters that have ventured into the maze soon learn the booby traps Dave constructed can be deadly with Criminal Minds star Kristen Vangsness comes to a hysterical end when she steps on a trap, losing her head to a cardboard guillotine as yarn comes flying out of her neck, as her head rolls along the ground.

Dave Made a Maze

Photo courtesy of Photon Pictures

While Watterson and co-writer Steven Sears should be credited with a very imaginative script, the stars of the film are the production designers John Sumner and Trisha Gum, who had to lead a team of set builders who use just about every medium in the book, including puppetry, stop-motion animation, and rear projection. One of my favorite scenes is where the cast comes into one of those rooms that messes with optical illusions, as the cast explores the room revealing some objects are bigger are smaller than they appear initially in the scene.

Dave Made a Maze

Photo courtesy of Photon Pictures

Dave Made a Maze was the opening-night movie of the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival and delighted a sold-out crowd that whooped and roared at every new maze reveal. It was the perfect film to open a movie festival that delights in the puppetry arts and quirky comedies that entertain its audiences. You will want to spend some time exploring the maze with this zany cast of characters, just make sure not to step on any booby traps, or it could be your last film ever.   My Rating: Full Price  

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

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