Home » Cube Zero Retrospective – The Origins of the Cube

Cube Zero Retrospective – The Origins of the Cube

Poster for Ernie Barbarash's Cube Zero.
Poster for Cube Zero.

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A group of strangers wake up in a giant cube-shaped infrastructure with no recollection of how they got there and no idea how to escape. Guards in a control room use cutting edge technology to analyze their dreams. One of the guards begins to suspect that the inhabitants are being placed in the cube against their will, in spite of being told that all parties have agreed to be part of the experiment instead of receiving the death penalty.

Ernie Barbarash (Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming) writes and directs this third installment in the Cube franchise. This film is a bit of a paradox. It’s written in such a way as to provide answers but what makes the first film work so well is that it reveals so little. This film provides a sense of closure but I doubt if anyone that worked on the first installment is very enthusiastic about Cube Zero giving finite answers to what is happening behind the scenes and why.

Cube Zero has a totally different visual aesthetic than the first two films. The original plays with light and dark and incorporates the use of muted colors. The second is strikingly bright. And this installment is gritty and glum. The aesthetic of this film, though not visually pleasing, is true to the situation the participants are in and it mirrors the never-ending struggle they are up against.

One of the stronger points of this film is that goes back to what worked for the original. In the first film, the characters used logic to work their way through the cube. But in the second, the characters were making decisions based on anything but logic. In Cube Zero, the participants work through the giant infrastructure by using mathematics and reasoning; that makes for a much more entertaining journey than one where logic is not a frequently used resource.

As for the quality of the performances, the acting isn’t spectacular but it is believable enough to keep the film afloat. None of the performers really stand out as exceptional but none of them really stand out as particularly bad either.

Cube Zero likely has the biggest budget of the three Cube films  (due to LionsGate coming on board) and that shows in the level of quality with which the special effects are executed. The sequence where one of the characters is eaten by some kind of fast acting acid is really top notch when compared to some of the less successful effects in the previous film.

There is no nudity in Cube Zero. It didn’t work in the second film and it wouldn’t have been effective here either. I can’t imagine many scenarios in which people struggling to survive would be running around in the buff for no reason.

The way that Cube Zero ends is somewhat satisfying compared to the way the previous Cube films ended. It still paints a fairly bleak picture but it is much more gratifying than the way the previous two films left off. Fans of the series will notice that the final scene in Cube Zero harkens back to the first film.

Cube Zero is not an essential picture. It is a sequel that no one really demanded and it responds to questions that didn’t necessarily need answers but there are much worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Cube Zero is a good film to check out when there’s nothing else on and you don’t have anything better to be doing. If you feel like giving it a try, it is available on DVD from LionsGate.

WICKED RATING: 4/10  [usr 4]

Director(s): Ernie Barbarash
Writer(s): Ernie Barbarash
Stars: Zachary Bennett, Stephanie Moore
Year: 2004
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate
Budget: $1.2 Million
Language: English
Length: 97 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Psychological Horror-Thriller


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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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