There is a certain beauty to behold in a film that remains engaging for its entire running time, despite the fact it only uses one single location. With a creative use of colour, the cube shaped room in which the characters spend all their time becomes multiple rooms, as if by magic. It’s the only bit of colour you’re going to get, as Cube has a rather dark narrative at its core (well, exceedingly dark as it happens), highlighting the best and worst of what humanity has to offer. But mostly the worst.
A bunch of eclectic characters are thrown into the complex – a cop, a doctor, an escape artist, a mathematically talented girl and… some guy – and have to work their way out by avoiding the vast number of rooms that are boobytrapped. One false move and you can have your face melted by acid, your whole body sliced and diced, or something even more gruesome and grisly. Or a combination of everything if you’re really unlucky.
As you might expect for low budget sci-fi horror, all of the characters are basic archetypes and don’t really have all that much going for them in terms of development. But as the basic formula is for most of them to be bumped off, that’s easy to forgive. There’s also an obligatory element of “they might not be who or what they seem to be” which, let’s face it, is typical for this kind of movie.
Arguably then, there are no real surprises to be found. But, surprisingly, this isn’t a bad thing. By revelling in the familiar story you are given permission to disengage your brain and not worry too much about why everyone has been forced into this life or death situation. Instead you can spend the running time trying to figure out which characters will make it to the end, or who will be unceremoniously bumped off by the screenwriter.
Genre favourites such as Nicole de Boer (Star Trek DS9, Season 7) and David Hewlett (Stargate Atlantis in particular) make up some of our eclectic group. They, along with the remaining cast (notable mention to Maurice Dean Wint as Quentin), are thoroughly enjoyable and only the slightest bit annoying – a deliberate approach in the script.
It’s an interesting take on the captive science experiment scenario, the psychological effects of captivity and the uncertainty over who is responsible. It doesn’t help that they all arrive with no memory of how they arrived there. As time passes and they start working out how this game is played, their characters develop alongside the story. Those who we initially find as quite warm become something much less pleasant, while others who began the film as overly sarcastic reveal that they are in fact selfless individuals.
It might get a little too clever for its own good when reaching its conclusion, but otherwise it’s a solid low budget science fiction thriller that doesn’t try to push beyond the boundaries of its concept. Leave that for the sequel and prequel films that were to follow.