American Director Vincenzo Natali’s latest film “Splice” opened last month for a short time and is one of the better movies I’ve seen so far this year. Hopefully it will find a following on DVD. His 1997 debut feature “Cube” has become a low budget cult classic. This incredibly inventive and creative film holds you from the very first frame to the closing credits.
“Cube” could be described as a thrilling and suspenseful mathematical mind fuck. The plot revolves around a group of strangers who are being held captive in a maze of cubed rooms. Why are they there? Who is doing this? These are the two biggest questions asked, and I applaud Natali’s decision to keep these questions ambiguous.
The group of seven characters is composed of a cop, a doctor, a teen girl, an autistic man, an ex-con, a mysterious twenty something guy, and another older man. Although the acting could’ve been better they do the best with what they are given. Made for under a half million dollars, the production values and visual effects don’t suffer. Some of the rooms are booby trapped, and this made me think that this film was likely a big influence on the “Saw” series. Although the Saw movies take the torture and gore to extreme levels, while Cube is more character driven. The rooms all have a certain color and ID numbers with which they must try to figure out what it all means in order to get out alive.
The real genius of the film is that these people are just there for no apparent reason and they don’t know how they got there. Nobody is watching them; they’re no cameras in the rooms. Is this some kind of military experiment? Where exactly is this cube structure located? Who built it? This question is only slightly answered. The cubes eventually start to take its toll on the inhabitants and some start to lose their minds. Themes of claustrophobia, panic and paranoia run throughout the film. Of the seven people trapped inside only one is able makes it “out”.
There was a sequel made in 2002 called “Cube 2: Hypercube” which is not half bad, it is equally mind bending as the original but with gratuitous use of obvious CGI, but in this kind of movie is just seemed to fit.