In my search for this horror/comedy review collection, I stumbled on this title quite a bit. It seemed to come pretty highly recommended by various lists, and the images that I was able to see taken from the film certainly intrigued me. I could tell just by a few details that this was going to be something I enjoyed, and I'm happy to say that I definitely was not mistaken. This is one of the finest examples of all-around creativity I've seen in a film to date, and we all know how I'm a sucker for imagination put into a film.
Things open up with Dave's (Nick Thune) girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) coming back to their apartment after having been away for the weekend. Upon entering, she notices a fair-sized cardboard fort has been constructed in the middle of things, while Dave's voice comes from it. Dave explains that he's built an elaborate labyrinth, and has become lost within it. He insists on having no one enter it, as things are too dangerous and people could get lost or caught in one of his booby traps. We also learn it can't just be knocked down, as it's actually a pretty gigantic structure that goes far further than just the apartment.
Annie calls Dave's good friend Gordon (Adam Busch) over to assess the situation, and Gordon, in turn, invites a whole whack of other guests over as well, including their friends Leonard (Scott Krinsky), Brynn (Stephanie Allynne), Greg (Timothy Nordwind), Jane (Kirsten Vangsness) and last but not leats, a filmmaker named Harry (James Urbaniak), his boom operator (Frank Caeti) and cameraman (Scott Narver). Eventually, the fascination with the alleged complex maze within the simple cardboard box fort leads these people inside in an attempt to rescue Dave, and help him find his way out.
Once in the maze, that's where the film takes a crazy turn with its imagination and just goes all out with things. Booby traps are sprung, for example, causing plenty of blood and gore, giving this horror/comedy its horror element. However, the gore is made up of things like red confetti, ribbons and other things one might see used as fake blood on a stage play. Beyond that, however, is the overall environment of the maze itself. It's all created with layered cardboard, paper, etc. and decorated both simply but elaborately. Think of it as a giant cardboard fort that a group of children constructed over the course of a summer or something. It's pretty simple stuff, but at the same time, you can't not think it's kind of awesome.
Things do not end on simple elaborate design, however. As I said, this is also loaded with imagination. One of the finest examples of this includes the group entering a room in which they all transform into paper bag puppets. Why? I have no idea whatsoever, but it's proof that they weren't afraid to go all out on this one instead of just thinking "nah, that's kinda dumb". There's also a minotaur that chases them around all throughout the maze, a strange portal that can transform you into cardboard if you touch it, and just pure works of art as far as the eye can see. This came from a genuinely creative mind who wanted to have fun with things.
All in all, this makes me think a LOT of being a kid and building forts in my basement. Things would transform just enough that it felt like a different room altogether, and we'd play games in there and such. It's almost like director Bill Waterson is a grown-up tapping into that childlike mentality and taking it to the next level - like what if we still thought like this? Beyond that, there's also a pretty strong message in here about the creative process, not being able to finish things and the frustrations of trying to create something perfect. One could think of the maze as Dave's own frustrated imagination at work as his friends travel through it trying to help him.
One can find this movie on Shudder at the moment, but otherwise, I'm afraid it's a pretty hard one to come across. That said, if you can find a way to watch it, this is one of my high recommendations for those of you who want to see something fun, original, creative and new. It's like I tell people, and this is further proof of it as far as I'm concerned, new and original movies DO still exist, they're just much harder to find now. This is also more of a comedy than it is a horror (especially with the blood not being remotely real), so just keep that in mind if you're coming here for the creepy factor. This may end up being one I want to show visitors when they come by though. If you can find a way to watch it, do check it out. It's bizarre, but really well done!