Meet the indie movie with a lot of cardboard.
Director: Bill Watterson
Lead cast: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani
Release date: Out now
Reviewer: Simon Brew
How many times have you heard someone, when discussing a movie, try to dismiss it by saying something like “I could have made that”? Granted, it’s a piece of pub-talk shorthand to generally acknowledge shortcomings in a production, but chances are the person concerned couldn’t make it at all.
Next time you hear it, try directing said person in the direction of Dave Made A Maze, a paradoxically brilliant and frustrating curio co-written and directed by Bill Watterson. It follows Dave (Nick Thune) who, well, builds a maze out of cardboard in his living room. When his friends venture into the maze, they find it’s TARDIS style – bigger on the inside – and full of deadly traps. That are also made out of cardboard.
It’s the cardboard, in the nicest sense, that’s the showstopper. Watterson’s film feels like an analogue one, with sets, traps and occupants of the maze all built from the card, to the point where I find myself wanting the eventual DVD release to come with sheets of the stuff and instructions so I can join in. The ingenuity and visual style are hugely impressive, and have the side effect of leaving filmmaking feeling just that little bit more reachable.
The frustration is that the characters and story don’t quite match those visuals. Dave is a man who never finishes anything, the maze included, and for 40 to 50 minutes of the slender 80-minute running time there’s enough to fuel the movie. But when the story needs some kind of crescendo, the tank runs dry. Thankfully, Watterson saves some visual treats for the backend of his feature. Very much a film to enjoy for its style over its substance. But then it’s some style – a movie that carves out a look that not a single film this year will come close to mirroring. Dave Made A Maze deserves support.