Cube

If you’re looking for a film to watch as parts of the country re-enter lockdown, Canadian sci-fi/horror movie Cube ticks all the boxes.

Five rubes wake up in a trap-infested cube in this proto-Saw from 1997, combining puzzle-box mystery elements, splashes of cosmic horror and lashings of Hellraiser-inspired gore. Totally in the dark as to whether they’re in an extreme team-building exercise or multi-dimensional escape room, the two-dimensional characters comprise the usual stereotypes: sceptical doctor, aggressive cop, maths geek (hence the glasses), cowboy, biker, Red Indian… just kidding about those last three.

The acting and dialogue aren’t as sharp as the sporadic slicing and dicing (the mathematician (Nicole de Boer) mostly shouts things like “Prime numbers!” and “Descartes!”), which is a problem in a film solely consisting of people talking in empty rooms. Fortunately the script keeps some sociologically outside-the-box thinking in rotation: the doctor (Nicky Guadagni) thinks the Cube is a military-industrial display of state violence; the cynic (David Hewlett) a “forgotten perpetual public works project”, or Millennium Dome if you’re British.

Vincenzo Natali’s simple premise is intriguing albeit mechanical by design, deliberately going nowhere except round in circles. It is however oddly charming, and what Cube lacks in Saw-like tension it makes up for in Kafkaesque existential nightmarishness by posing questions about humanity’s worth and capacity for trust. For a movie that’s essentially people bouncing between identical rooms, Cube is surprisingly fun if not particularly scary. Especially when we’ve all spent the last four months waking up in a trap-laden cube (if you happen to have mice).

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