Home » Cube is a Cerebral Character Study [Retrospective]

Cube is a Cerebral Character Study [Retrospective]


A group of strangers wake up inside a giant contraption. Each one of them possesses a unique characteristic or skill that can aid the group in their plight to try and escape the mechanism. But they must be weary, as many of the rooms within the cube are laden with traps and other deterrents. They will have to learn to work together if any of them is going to escape the cube alive.

Vincenzo Natali (Haunter) co-wrote the script and directed this science fiction/horror thriller. The film’s screenplay is very original. Cube very likely served as inspiration for more contemporary fare like Saw. The idea of strangers brought together and forced to fight for their lives while steering clear of a variety of traps could sum up either Saw or Cube.

Something that really impressed me about Cube is that it isn’t afraid to show the ugly side of human emotion or paint its characters in a vulnerable and less than flattering light. Though the cast is not always likable, their behavior is representative of how one might actually behave in the situation these people are thrown into. The film sets out to do more than just entertain; it also paints an interesting character study that prompts the viewer to think about the flick long after it’s over.

Working with a minimal budget, Natali relies heavily on the film’s haunting score and the interactions between the characters to build tension rather than grandiose and costly effects. The score sounds like an audio recording of the chants of an extremist cult. It’s very unnerving. The eerie qualities of the score and the characters constant attacks on one another keep the audience from ever feeling too comfortable at any point.

Also See: Six Surprisingly Great Sci-Fi Horror Films That Nobody Saw

Keeping with the minimalistic approach, Natali makes clever use of the confined space in which the film takes place. The viewer quickly begins to feel the claustrophobic sensation that is being experienced by the cast and that’s thanks to the film’s highly effective cinematography. It begins to feel like the rooms are closing in on the cast and that sensation seamlessly translates to the audience.

My only real complaint with Cube is the acting. The performers all vacillate between entirely believable portrayals of their character and overselling it a bit. When they are good, they are very good but there are just as many instances where the acting leaves something to be desired.

The effects are a mixture of practical and CGI. The scene at the very beginning of the flick where a character is cut into cubes still looks fairly good after all these years. Though the sequence is computer generated, it’s well done. On the other hand, there are some CG effects that don’t hold up quite as well. The majority of the FX are on point. And any shortcomings are outweighed by the quality of the effects that do stand the test of time.

Cube is a clever blend of science fiction and horror. It is a testament to what a passionate filmmaker can do with limited means. It is a must see film for horror and sci-fi fans.


Director(s): Vincenzo Natali
Writer(s): André Bijelic, Graeme Manson, Vincenzo Natali
Stars: Nicole de Boer, Nicky Gaudagni
Year: 1998
Studio/ Production Co: Viacom Canada, Odeon Films
Budget: $350,000
Language: English
Length: 90 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Sci-fi Horror

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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