Cube (1997) Movie Review

“Cube” is a strange, but good, movie. It’s one of the more creative movies I’ve seen in a long time. The film is Canadian in origin, and was finished, I believed, with the help of money raised to help Canadian filmmakers. I’m sure there’s a name for this particular program, but it escapes me at the moment.

There is actually only one set for “Cube” — the cube-shaped prison cell of the title — which is redressed each time to give the impression of more than one cube connected to a multitude of others. The movie concentrates on character interactions and on the question of just how much creativity can the director throw at us without giving away that the film is a low-budget experience. Because of its limitations, the movie has very little plot, and what plot there is is paper thin at best, nonexistent at worst.

Characters, each with different talents, wake up to find themselves in the cube prison without knowing why they are there, or even where “there” is, and must combine their unique talents to escape — if they can escape at all. One is a pretty young math student (Nicole de Boer); an autistic adult who can make difficult calculations in a heartbeat; an aggressive cop; another is a nurse that stands up for the autistic; and another man has secrets concerning the construction of the cube — he was one of its builders!

As a low-budget production, “Cube” is a very impressive and ambitious film. It’s fantastic how the director and his set designers manage to turn each subsequent cube that our players find themselves in look different each time. Mind you, there isn’t anything fancy about the “different” cubes themselves, but merely the changing of background colors and a few modifications here and there. Plus, each cube is booby trapped with lethal devices like lasers that slices a man into multiple pieces, which means our players must find ways around these death traps. Surprisingly, a simple shoe becomes the tool of salvation.

“Cube” is interesting in that it attempts to be very intelligent with its puzzles, even though its entire premise (why have they been imprisoned in the first place?) is rather weak. That is, if the film bothers to tackle the question to begin with. (Not that it matters, natch.)

Which brings me to the film’s weakest moment. The ending. I’m not sure what director Natali and his writers were thinking, but the ending sequence completely undermines all the intellectual challenges that were established in the movie prior to that one moment. The complex sequence of prime numbers that the characters are forced to deal with, the gauging of what trap lies in each subsequent cubes, the getting around said traps… All of that is thrown out the window in favor of a cheap scare that doesn’t even scare as much as it annoys.

Vincenzo Natali (director) / Vincenzo Natali, Andr’ Bijelic, Graeme Manson (screenplay)
CAST: Nicole de Boer …. Leaven
Nicky Guadagni …. Holloway
David Hewlett …. Worth

Buy Cube on DVD