This picture should already pique your interest. If not, this movie is still worth watching.

Cube is another Canadian movie brought to you by Canadian Netflix. It’s a movie that has a cult following and you may be familiar with it. Ostensibly a science fiction film, Cube is also a pretty novel take on the “trapped in a deathtrap” genre of horror movies. It is also Vincenzo Natali’s first feature (he wrote and directed). You might know him by his more recent work: Splice. For my money, Natali has a pitch-perfect sense of balance between high-concept science fiction and underlying horror. Cube is only like Splice in that it is about the interplay of those elements in what is a fairly balanced, if less confident, piece of movie.

You won’t recognize any of the actors but the characters are all strongly presented. How different characters dovetail between our sympathy and enmity is a credit to the film and the cast. For example… one minute you hate the slimy weasel who knows maybe too much about this place, the next you are rooting for him as he stands up to the bullying, semi-insane cop. Though no one is trying to rewrite the book on characterization so there are recognizable types present throughout. As good as the character work is, the main selling point for this movie is the awesome setting.

All of the characters wake up disoriented inside cubic rooms connected into some kind of superstructure with doors on every facet and numerical codes imprinted at every juncture. Banding together, the core group has to figure out what this thing is and how to escape it. Watching them do this in such a hostile (read: deathtraps everywhere!) environment is the source of atmosphere, suspense, and the best-used minimalist set in ever.

There are some gruesome kills but the violence is realistic without being gratuitous. Of course, some of the creative traps contrived for the movie yield interestingly gory fatalities, the movie is not really about this stuff. It’s just icing on the cake for people who like a little stomach-turning “ewww” in their scifi-horror. I know I do.

If mystery is your cup of tea, Cube has something to offer you there as well. The central mystery is exactly what The Cube is, including supplementary questions about what it’s for and how these people got there. Because there are some answers to be had, the mystery is teased out over the course of the film and leads to a sort of unconventional twist-ending. If you watch the movie, you might miss it it’s so barely in the realm of the high-handed nonsense that passes for a “twist” in most movies of this kind.

In any case, you should watch Cube. Like Deadgirl, it’s a great example of how Canadian cinema actually does exist and occasionally kicks ass. It’s also an early look at the work of a man who is probably a strong candidate to follow up on the work of David Cronenberg, indisputably the best Canadian filmmaker I can name.

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