Dave Made a Maze is a 2017 Comedy Horror Fantasy Adventure film directed by Bill Watterson (not that one, although there is a lot of cardboard box magic), and starring Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Adam Busch, and James Urbaniak.
After coming home from a trip, Annie (Kumbhani) discovers that her boyfriend Dave (Thune) has built a cardboard fort in the middle of their apartment that he apparently refuses to exit, claiming that he is "lost".
After calling their friend Gordon (Busch) (who then calls their other friend Harry (Urbaniak), as well as several other people), Annie decides to enter the maze despite Dave's repeated warnings that it's too dangerous. Immediately upon entering, the group realizes that Dave's maze is, in fact, a colossal labyrinth, and Dave really is lost.
Dave Made a Maze provides examples of:
- Animated Credits Opening: The intro to the film shows an animated Dave trying and failing at a variety of different hobbies. It doesn't only serve to entertain, but also introduces Dave as someone who is very creative, but struggles to stay focused on one thing and can't finish what he starts.
- Animate Inanimate Object: The origami birds.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Invoked: The maze doesn't have a weak point to attack, so Dave has to make one.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Annie retreats into a glassy-eyed stare and flustered monotone whenever the documentary camera is pointed at her, while Gordon hams it up at every opportunity.
- Band Land: Dave incorporated the box of an electronic keyboard he never made into a giant wall-mounted piano. It plays notes when you touch it, and the black keys function as doors.
- Bigger on the Inside: The maze fits entirely within Dave and Annie's living room in their apartment, but on the inside, it is an enormous labyrinth.
- Bloodless Carnage: Several characters get dismembered or impaled while inside the maze, but not a drop of blood is actually shed since apparently everyone's insides have been converted to crafts supplies.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: Despite Dave repeatedly asking Gordon to not tell anyone that he is lost in the maze, Gordon not only calls all of their other friends but also tells random people on the street.
- Creative Closing Credits: The credits are animated much like the intro to the film, with a cartoon minotaur (having found its way to the real world) dancing alongside cartoon versions of the cast in a club.
- Draw Aggro: Gordon pulls this on the minotaur towards the end of the film, pretending to have found the maze's exit to keep the minotaur's attention and keep himself the target of pursuit.
- Eldritch Location: At some point, the maze literally came to life and started building new sections entirely on its own. It even starts to extend outside the entrance and converts Dave and Annie's apartment to cardboard.
- Everyone Has Standards: Harry quickly exposes himself as a pretentious asshole who completely shrugs off the deaths of his friends in favor of milking more drama out of the survivors for his documentary. However, the Cardboard Brynn genuinely rattles him and he spends his "interview" with her trying to figure out if she's really Brynn and if she can be saved.
- Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Dave picks up and discards a lot of these, to the exhaustion of those around him. His main motivation through the film is to finally finish something—but unfortunately, the thing he plans on finishing is a murderous labyrinth.
- Flip Personality: The cardboard duplicate of Brynn flips back-and-forth between cheerful and asking for high-fives, to intimidating and demonic-sounding. Harry wonders if the thing actually is Brynn, and she's attempting to fight off the maze's influence.
- Forced Perspective: One room contains a very tiny table and chairs, which at the start of the scene are positioned extremely close to the camera.
- Grammar Nazi: Harry constantly corrects people's grammar, even when it's at a very inappropriate time.Dave: And tertiary, tertiary, I might be responsible for the people that died today, and if I am... I'm sorry.
Dave gets up and leaves the room.
- Holding the Floor: Inverted by Harry, who distracts cardboard Brynn by interviewing her for the documentary, keeping her talking so the maze won't notice the attempts to destroy it.
- How We Got Here: The first scene of the film is an excerpt of Harry's interview with Dave for his documentary, which doesn't happen until the last twenty minutes of the movie.
- Hugh Mann: Towards the end of the film, the group runs into a cardboard duplicate of their now dead friend Brynn that is desperately trying to pass as human, apparently completely unaware that it is made of cardboard. It constantly asks for high-fives from people, because "that is what man does".
- Magical Realism: Dave's maze being Bigger on the Inside and gaining sentience is completely inexplicable. The world of Dave Made a Maze is otherwise identical to the real world.
- Medium-Shift Gag: One of the many rooms in the maze turns all the human characters into paper bag puppets. Leaving the room turns them back into humans. The Minotaur can turn back at-will.
- Noodle Incident: Around the time the group discovers that the maze has grown out over the exit, they notice the sound guy has vanished, only for him to immediately arrive and act very cagey about what he was doing. We never find out what happened to him during his absence.
- Our Minotaurs Are Different: Just like the Greek myth, Dave's (cardboard) labyrinth has its own (cardboard) minotaur.
- Overly-Long Gag: Characters entering the room with the giant glowing cardboard vagina, staring it in awe, coming within inches of sticking their hand in it, and then being held back and told "it's a trap" by the last person who tried it.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: Downplayed, with Tim Nordwind (the bassist for OK Go) in a very minor role.
- The Perfectionist:
- Dave repeatedly says throughout the movie that the maze "isn't finished" despite it being gigantic.
- Harry also has shades of being a perfectionist in regards to the documentary he's directing. He repeatedly asks for retakes on people's genuine reactions to things that happen inside the maze, implying that they weren't as emotional as he would have liked.
- Puppet Permutation: The crew briefly turns into paper bag puppets.
- Shout-Out: When the gang notices that they've all turned black and white, they start quoting the "You fuck my wife?" scene from the black and white film Raging Bull.
- Skewed Priorities: No matter how dangerous or overwhelming the the maze gets, Dave continues to insist that the maze shouldn't be torn down and that he needs to keep making it. He eventually gets better as he accepts that Annie values him and his art and that he doesn't need to prove anything anymore.
- Symbolic Blood: This would be an extremely gory movie if it weren't for the fact that all the "gore" is made of crafts supplies.Annie: Is that my good yarn?
- Title Drop: At the end of the movie, Harry asks Dave for a title for the documentary, Dave suggests "Dave Made a Maze". Harry rejects it for being too on-the-nose.
- Trail of Bread Crumbs: The seeds the cameraman is constantly spitting on the floor? The sound man uses them like breadcrumbs to find his way back to the entrance after getting lost. Unfortunately, the minotaur follows them too.
- The Voiceless: Harry's cameraman doesn't say a word until right before he dies. Several times it looks like he's about to say something, only to just spit out a sunflower seed shell instead.
- Vagina Dentata: No teeth, but a giant glowing cardboard vagina did something to Dave when he stuck his hand in it. Whether it turned Dave's hand cardboard, or took Dave's hand entirely and he made a working prosthetic, is unclear.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- It's never shown what happened to the Flemish tourists that went into the maze, or the Hobo that stayed in Dave and Annie's apartment while everyone else was in the maze.
- It's also never said if the cardboard duplicate of Brynn really was Brynn or not.
Hey, you made it to the end! Come over here and give me a high-five!