Dir: Vincenzo Natali
Star: Nicole de Boer, Maurice Dean Wint, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1997
Format: Video

Six strangers awaken to find themselves in a large cube. On every surface is a hatch leading to an adjacent cube of equal size but of varying colours. Soon all of the prisoners find their way into the one cube where they introduce themselves and try to fathom their situation. Quentin (Maurice Dean Wint) the police officer quickly takes charge of the group as he is forced to entrust their progress through the maze to an escaped convict known as "the Wren". As members of the group fall foul to the various inventive booby traps within certain cubes they soon realise that they are all the unwitting participants in a diabolical game or test, the purpose of which you never learn. Some of the booby traps range from ultra high tech ones which are activated by a chemical produced by the skin to the lower tech motion sensors all of which have deadly consequences. After initial shocks and bewilderment the group convict themselves to finding a way out of the maze and soon discover that they each have unique talents or abilities which could be of help. Leaven ( Nicole de Boer) is a frumpy but cute college student and mathematical whizz, Rennes (Wayne Robson) is a professional thief and a master of escaping from prisons (i.e all 7 that have incarcarated him), Quentin (Maurice Dean Wint) is a cop and physical kind of guy, Holloway (Nicky Guadagni) despite the fact she is a bleedin' heart liberal is a doctor and conspiracy theorist, Worth (David Hewlett) is a nihilist, no friends, sucky job and an extensive porn collection and the final member of the group is Kassan (Andrew Miller) a seemingly harmless autistic adult.

You couldn't get a much simpler scenario, 6 characters in a series of virtually identical cubes, play on some unsettling psychological thrills, add some great plot twists, focus on the story and the characters. That is pretty much what you get with The Cube and despite the the film's setting being a tad repetitive you find yourself gripped by the sinister logic of it all. There is little in the way of special effects as the film quite rightly revolves around the characters as they try to deal with their despicable situation. What few effects you get are unobtrusive and work well.

The opening scene is both shocking and stunning and possibly the last thing that you would expect to see during the first 5 minutes of the movie but it holds your attention superbly with some finely honed tension and gives you an indication of what to expect later. You don't even realise what has happened until it is too late and even then you don't know how.....until you see the horrific contraption at a different angle and then it suddenly becomes clear. At times it is evident that this is a low budget movie but for a low budget Sc-Fi thriller this is visually quite impressive. The introduction grabs you and as the film slowly unravels it's story the further you are drawn in to this insidious tale and are witness to the terrible fates which befall most of the characters. The cube itself is a frightening example of surgical precision and horrific conviction, but is also an example of relatively simple but good production and set design. In addition to the very well written script is one of the movieís and visual look are itís finest qualities.

A reasonable cast provide some generally compelling performances but I would have to say that the underacting David Hewlett and the delightfully cute Nicole de Boer steal the show by providing by far the best and most memorable of the performances. On the other side of the coin however, Nicky Guadagni is woefully miscast as Holloway the Doctor and does little to bring anything agreeable to the character. The virtually lobotomized Maurice Dean Wint is quite terrible and grossly miscast as Quentin the cop. As to who will or won't make it out of the Cube is anyones guess. That is of course assuming that there is a way out.

On the whole this is a subtle and taut science fiction thriller which in places can be a little disturbing. There is a little gore and some bloodletting, but thankfully this is not at the expense of the story. Like the participants of the maze you don't see outside of the cube and you never get an explanation as to the cube's purpose, why they are the chosen few or who is behind it. This adds a slightly more sinister aspect to the story as the viewer is allowed to drawn their own conclusions.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home