The undiscovered joys of Cube
By Tom Mes
Quite simply, Cube is one of the most inventive and original films in recent years. No wonder it's gone straight to video. Don't challenge cinema goers! They might even enjoy themselves. And we can't have that now, can we?
The story: seven people wake up one day and find that they are trapped inside what can only be described as a giant, ultimate techno-nightmare version of the Rubik's cube. The cube consists of an immeasurable amount of (indeed) cubicles, identical but for colour and the fact that some of them have been wired with vicious boobytraps. Each cubicle has a small portal in each wall, plus two in ceiling and floor, which lead into another cubicle. These people's purpose, as far as they can tell, is to try and find the exit.
One of the great things about Cube is that it transcends genre. Is it science fiction? Horror? Drama? Perhaps the best way to describe it is psychological, mathematical, ensemble sci-fi drama. And if that doesn't sound very exciting, it should. In many ways the basic premise is similar to Twelve Angry Men. A melée of very different people thrown together into a situation where the only way out is to co-operate. However, where Cube differs from Twelve Angry Men is in character motivation. You're left wondering sometimes exactly why these people react the way they do.
Director Vincenzo Natali has crafted a near-perfect film here. Not only from the audience's point of view, but also from the maker's. Judging from the way this was shot, the only sets that had to be built were one or two cubicles. Changing colour is achieved through lighting, while the few boobytraps the group encounters are for the most part computer-generated images. Add to this a cast of only seven people and a brilliant script and you've got yourself a great film made for next to nothing.
Cube is thoroughly original, inventive, well-acted, beautifully shot, stylish and gripping. If it weren't for the lack of character motivation, this would truly have been one of the all-time greats.
director: Vincenzo Natali
screenplay: Andre Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali, Graeme Manson
cast: Nicole DeBoer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Maurice Dean Wint
duration: 87 mins.
videolabel (Holland): HOM Vision