31 Days of Horror – October 5th – “Dave Made a Maze”

First and foremost I’m going to defend this selection as it falls in the category of Horror movies on Prime Video. I never really outlined what constitutes a “Horror” movie when I started this endeavor a few days ago which I suppose bears some resolution. As this isn’t really a terribly formal affair, I’m operating fairly loosely in all this. There probably won’t be a lot of conjecture as to whether or not a movie technically “counts” or not. This may be the only foray into questionable territory over the course of the entire month. Regardless, I feel comfortable considering a film to be in bounds as long as some formal governing body, in this case Amazon Prime, vouches for the film under the heading of horror. And if I’m being perfectly honest, while this film does probably represent a fairly inclusive definition of spooky, I can also see the connective tissue that makes it fall under that heading as well. So now that we’ve deemed this movie to be usable, lets move on to my review of it.

Dave Made a Maze (2017) IMDb

Dave Made a Maze caught my eye at first while I was searching the other evening and landed on the selection of “House”. I noted the quirky cover art but that was all at first. Finding myself scrolling once again this evening I felt compelled to dig a little further. I watched the trailer and recognized a couple faces, most notable was a young Nick Thune. As a stand up comedian I quite enjoy for his off beat sense of humor, my interest in this film was now considerably piqued.

I have to say that this movie leans far more heavily on the comedy than the horror. I’m ok with that as that’s a big part of why this movie was so enjoyable. I will say that while the primary driver of the plot is to be a sort of hipster quirky style of humorous, but there really is a somewhat serious element of horror vested in this film as well. It most closely resembles the 1997 independent movie “Cube”. I will note that the Cube is still relatively different than the labyrinth created in this movie, there is an overlap in their seeming deadliness. Both feature booby traps that cause the demise of certain fringe characters. This movie handles that with funny to dismantle what would otherwise be more strenuously tense moments in the film. Instead of blood and guts. we are greeted with confetti and yarn. The craft supplies fit more with the motif of the entire maze being created out of cardboard boxes. While it doesn’t necessarily invoke a lot of big “scares”, I still fully appreciated the dire nature of the maze by which our intrepid protagonists must traverse to find safety.

I’m tempted to sift through the themes in this movie to find what feels like it wants to be a deeper meaning. I’m not sure if we’re meant to interpret the entire ordeal as a visual representation of a more adolescent state of manhood we see in men today that is void of the more masculine characteristics of a bygone era or if it’s just meant to be a cool fort made out of cardboard. I won’t ascribe meaning where it is not but one of the things I do appreciate out of comedians like Nick Thune beyond this work is a playful but cerebral nature to comedy. The duality of it’s application in both simple and complex fashions can easily be in play in many situation. Sometimes it’s implied and you have to look for it a bit. Other times it’s manifested by the level of irony that comes to pass in a well manicured story with a comedic outcome. Whatever the avenue by which the punch line is achieve, I cannot help but look at some of the elements of this movie and wonder if maybe the intent was to create something lighthearted and fun on the surface with a much deeper and larger meaning on the inside, very much like the actual visual representation of the fort/maze at the center of the movie. The temptation to plumb these depths is great, but I’m unsure if I’m just trying to make something more out of a silly 82 minute movie.

Ultimately I think I’m going to allow this one to be a solo outlier in my 31 days of horror. I don’t find the need to stretch the boundaries of what is and isn’t a horror movie any more than this one and I’m comfortable with that. This was a fun movie with some interesting characters and some solid jokes in my estimation. It’s not sophisticated humor that requires a series of degrees to appreciate but there does feel like a bit of elevation to the jokes that makes them hit a little harder. It’s not Dumb and Dumber but it’s also not a British comedy that relies too heavily on humor rich in references derived from the Battle of Hastings. Nick Thune is an everyman that is very relatable with a little extra if you’re paying close attention. But there are also vested comedic influences in the movie from the rest of the supporting cast as well. And while they aren’t violent in the tradition of Saw, the limited number of kills in this movie are shocking and well placed to create just enough peril and tension to squeak this one far enough into the horror category to get that combo label of horror comedy. Perhaps its a bit more comedy horror if we want to be accurate but it still counts. This movie is fun and after watching House the other night and really struggling to figure out why that movie didn’t push hard enough in the horror and found itself stagnate in that in between spot, this movie definitely revels far more in the comedy of the film. So if you’ve found yourself on a dark and twisted tear of horror films this October and want something lighthearted to break up the pace a little but still has some of that spooky atmosphere here and there, I would definitely recommend Dave Made a Maze for that. It’s short and sweet. It’s goofy all the way around. And maybe you’ll find some deep inner meaning that it meant to or didn’t mean to put in there. Any way you slice it, I had a lot of fun with this movie and I think most folks would do the same. So until we meet again kids, I’ll catch you on the flip side.

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