Now something of a major cult favourite with film fans, particularly horror fans, Canadian science fiction, psychological horror/thriller Cube‘s initial premise may seem familiar: a bunch of strangers wake up locked inside a room with seemingly no way out and with any potential means of escape probably resulting in death.
That’s where the similarities with the likes of Saw end as from those opening scenes onwards,where it appears our cast are trapped inside a huge cube which holds many other cube-shaped rooms. Some full of deadly traps, some not. The reason why it exists; unclear And the reason why these particular people were chosen and thrown together inside the cube; also unclear.
Despite the above sounding almost exactly like a plot of one of the many “torture porn” movies that followed after the success of the aforementioned Saw, in 1997 (6 years before the release of the first Saw film, it should be noted) there certainly weren’t many films like Cube around and despite polarizing reviews at the time, this low budget gem has long had it’s supporters and watching back, it’s pretty easy to see why.
Looking back, 1997 wasn’t a bad year for sci-fi films: Gattaca, Contact, The Filth Element, Event Horizon, Starship Troopers and Men in Black sat alongside lower budget gems like Mimic and The Relic. And the Alien and Jurassic Park franchises got sequels too, albeit disappointing ones in Resurrection and The Lost World, respectively. So a B-movie with a little known cast and a unique concept may not appeal to your casual cinema goer but for sci-fi and horror fans that enjoyed seeking out these lesser known films, Cube soon garnered a following due to it’s tension-filled moments, brutal traps (Cube has a few memorably gory set-pieces) and interesting characters.
Credit has to be given to Vincenzo Natali’s solid direction; using the limited space of the cube (or cubes within the cube) to get some good shots and angles during scenes, helping add tension as well as attempting to give the characters some depth so we can at least form some kind of bond with them during their terrifying ordeal and journey through the cube and think about why this group of people, that would likely never meet on the outside, have been brought together in this bizarre but ultimately quite creepy situation.
The cast do a decent enough job to with Nicole De Boer’s Joan Leaven, Maurice Dean Wint’s scumbag cop, Quentin, Nicky Guadagni as Dr. Helen Holloway and Andrew Miller’s Kazan all standing out and helping to make this unique premise and film work as much as possible, maybe against the odds in some respects.
Cube did well enough to get a sequel; 2002’s Cube 2: Hypercube and a prequel, 2004’s Cube Zero. Both received mixed but mostly positive reviews at the time, especially Cube Zero and a remake has been on the cards since 2015. Whether this will appear or not is anyone’s guess but as far as the original goes, 1997’s Cube remains a unique, solid, interesting, exciting and occasionally brutal sci-fi/horror cult classic.
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