Every so often you find yourself a film that just fascinates you. Maybe it’s a big budget spectacle where you simply cannot believe what you see is happening, maybe it’s a hard hitting drama where you are moved to tears by the performances. Or maybe it’s Cube.
As low budget as they come, featuring admirably but mostly shaky performances, Cube is one of those films that is just written superbly. The premise is simple – six strangers wake up in a strange location, rooms that appear barren and industrial. As they come together they realise they are in more than perilous circumstances as each room seems to be rigged with booby traps aimed solely at their demise. This is at a time when Saw, Buried and Phone Booth still don’t exist and though the plot was inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone, this was one of the first somewhat high profile uses of the “strangers in the one location” tropes that we have become somewhat fatigued by today.
What transpires once our ensemble realise their predicament is a brilliant paced unravelling of heightened tension. Cube never tells us why they’re here or who put them there and it doesn’t need to, very soon we discover that the cube is not nearly as dangerous as it’s occupants. Tensions soar and as the efforts of the group become more and more futile (and indeed as the group gets smaller and smaller) people’s true colours come to fruition. Sadly, director Vincenzo Natali never hit the creative heights if his directorial debut again and though he has had moderate success in his subsequent career, Cube remains his crowning achievement.
Just a quick note if you do watch this and feel yourself wanting more, two follow ups cane along in 2002 and 2004. Whilst 2004’s Cube 0 wasn’t bad and ties into this one nicely, you’ll do bet to avoid Cube 2 – Hypercube. Dear lord, a concrete example of the Hollywood mould of “people liked X, let’s do X again but with twice the money and half the thought”. It’s… It’s just bad, there are no other words.
Image courtesy of wikipedia.org