Film Review: Cube (1997)

Release Date: September 9th, 1997 (TIFF)
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Written by: Andre Bijelic, Graeme Manson, Vincenzo Natali
Music by: Mark Korven
Cast: Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Maurice Dean Wint

Feature Film Project, Odeon Films, Viacom Canada, Ontario Film Development Corporation, Cube Libre, Téléfilm Canada, Harold Greenberg Fund, Trimark Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“No more talking. No more guessing. Don’t even think about nothing that’s not right in front of you. That’s the real challenge. You’ve gotta save yourselves from yourselves.” – Rennes

Cube is a film with a great concept mired by bad acting and questionable direction.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the movie and it is, by far, the best of the three films in the series. Granted, the sequel and prequel weren’t made by this film’s director and therefore, can’t be considered his vision, even if they are extensions of the ideas established in this film.

The movie is actually pretty impressive. For one, it all takes place in a very confined space. It was filmed in one room on a very modest budget and even if it wasn’t a critical success, initially, it has developed a well deserved cult following.

The premise of Cube is intriguing. The setup is not wholly original but the overall idea for this film is.

We come to meet a group of strangers, who find themselves in a giant cube maze. Every room looks the same: a big cube with a door on all six sides, each door leading to an identical cube. However, some rooms have traps that kill and maim characters throughout the film. They must use their skills to try and traverse the deadly maze in an effort to find an escape.

You never really find out why the people were put in the cube or what its purpose is. There is the thought that they were selected for their different skill sets and that the game they are playing is only happening to give the cube a reason to exist.

None of the questions are really answered by the time you get to the end of the film and while that will most assuredly annoy most people, I was really happy with there not being a big reveal. The film is effective because it doesn’t need to explain itself. We meet these people, they are in this situation, we watch the experiment play out.

The later sequels started explaining more but without Vincenzo Natali in the director’s chair, I can’t really accept those events within the context of this film.

Cube is well paced, moves briskly but still builds tension in the right way. It’s not as predictable as you might think but then again, some things sort of just happen because they’re tropes of this picture’s genre style.

The only real negative is the acting. It’s not horrible and a few characters are likable but a few of them become grating after 90 minutes. I think that the acting quality just comes from lack of experience and a director that was more into the visual elements of the film than the performances of its stars. Nicole de Boer who was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine around the same time as this, has proven she’s got chops.

Cube is certainly a worthwhile experience and it has a bit more gore than I remembered, as I haven’t seen it in a very long time. Not a lot of gore but some nice, quick gross outs here and there.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Cube sequels.

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