From the opening scene “Cube” thrusts the audience, along with 6 characters, directly into a booby-trapped maze of cubed rooms. No one, neither characters nor audience, knows quite why they’re there. But the film never lets up by leaving those claustrophobic cube chambers for a flashback or an easy explanation. It maintains an intense focus, and the suspense just builds and builds.
This is a pretty cold open: Six people in jumpsuits awake in a strange arrangement of connected cubes. Each cube has a door on each of its 6 walls (including up and down.) They quickly discover that some of the rooms are booby trapped with a variety of motion detecting traps such as poison gas, tons of slicing mechanisms, flame throwers or a face melting acid spray. Yikes. An early, and disturbingly painful, death shows just how high the stakes are. Without food and water, they’ve got maybe 3 days to find their way out.
TV Casualties Rating:
|Run Time: 90 minutes|
|Directed by: Vincenzo Natali|
|Written by: André Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali, Graeme Manson|
|Starring: David Hewlett, Nicky Guadagni, Nicole de Boer|
|Theatrical Release: 09/09/97|
|DVD Release: 01/26/99|
|Production Budget: N/A|
|Domestic Gross: $501,000|
|Metacritic Score: 61/100|
|Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 58%|
Tension builds as a viewer, but it builds even more for the characters. They’re pushed to their limits, and when one snaps, it changes the group dynamic completely over the second half.
Released in Canada in 1992, “Cube” has slowly but surely found an audience on DVD. Borrowing some from John Carpenter’s “The Thing“, the basic premise of confined characters searching for both meaning and salvation in their actions makes this more or less a blueprint for the “Saw” series without the lame Jigsaw the master puppeteer angle. I’ll just say that “Cube” is many many times better.
Beyond being without some of the unrealistic behavior that you see in movies like “Saw“, “Cube” isn’t all contrivances and manipulations. It’s more than just setting up twists. It gives the audience plenty to really think about with a clear philosophical theme of chaos vs. order. The question of why they’re here is an obvious one, and one that they can’t know without getting out, if ever. Did someone meticulously plan this cube and specifically target them to bring them here for some grand purpose? Or was it all a lot more random – the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing, more or less – based on the little information we have on the cube’s construction, the latter at least seems plausible. The characters discuss it at length. Both sides of the debate seem reasonable enough.
“Cube” engages the audience in the best way a movie can. It asks big questions. It leaves a lot to the imagination, but it makes you think. It doesn’t just present easy, digestible answers that are more about convenience than meaning. The movie does not fit into a neat little “Cube“.