After having heard so much about the Cube trilogy of movies, I decided to dive right in and watch them. As psychological horror, the first and third films work well, despite their obvious flaws. It’s easy to see how the series has developed a cult following; I didn’t love them myself, but I was reasonably entertained.
The series starts with, well, Cube. It has a gripping first few minutes that show you nothing’s safe and that there’s a great deal to fear. Not long after that we’re introduced to the cast, and that’s where the movie fell down a bit. None of the characters were the least bit likable, which is fine, but their dialogue often descended into unrealistic cliche. Quentin’s descent into angry madness was well-portrayed: the second best performance in the film. The conspiracy-theory doctor and the math girl were okay, but nothing special. David Hewlett as Worth did the best job, though that might be nostalgia talking, as his performance reminded one very much of Dr Rodney McKay in the Stargate series of TV shows. Plenty of horrific deaths and enclosed spaces made this the best film in the series.
The sequel, Cube 2: Hypercube, isn’t a horror film as much as it is a science fiction flick where people die in weird ways. Rather than physical traps to kill the hapless prisoners, this cube has things like tesseracts, variable-speed rooms, and bizarre crystals that cause horrible, if somewhat bloodless deaths. The dialogue here was even worse than in the first movie, though the characters were rather more interesting. One of the few films you’ll see where the comic relief actually worked well. One character becomes a crazy sociopath for no apparent reason, which made little sense, and the special effects were very early 2000’s movie-of-the week. Nevertheless, the weird sciency stuff was pretty neat and made up for the overall flatness of the film.
The series ends with Cube Zero, which calls itself a prequel, of sorts. This is where you see a bit of what’s outside the Cube and who’s in charge. Most of that is nonsensical, though the strange combination of obsolete gadgetry and modern technology made for a compelling aesthetic. In Cube Zero they return to the gritty, industrial feel of the first film, eschewing the clean, sterile atmosphere of Hypercube. We get to see the people who observe the prisoners trapped in the cube, as well as the upper “bosses,” as it were. Hints of a bizarre, theocratic government are hintfully dropped, amidst the disgusting executions and inevitable betrayals. Better than the second film but not as good as the first.
The Cube series is somewhat dated, but entertaining anyway. Give the first one a watch: if you didn’t like it, you probably won’t like its sequels.