Looking into the Cube [Film] Series

Looking into the Cube [Film] SeriesHave you heard of the Cube Film Series? No? if you’re curious and want to know more, let’s take a look at the Cube Film Series.

The Cube film series consists of three Canadian films directed by Vincenzo Natali, Andrzej Sekula, and Ernie Barbarash respectively. They are independent science fiction psychological thriller horror films. It appears that the movies are loosely based on Jim Henson screenplay “The Cube” which, in turn, is loosely based on the short story “The Squirrel Cage” by Thomas M. Disch. The Twilight Zone TV series was also an inspiration for the movie. Remember the “Saw” Films, “The Mist” and “The Maze Runner” franchise? Their stories in some way are very similar to the Cube series. It is possible that these filmmakers were inspired by the Cube film series? Most probably.

About the Cube

In the Cube series, each film has a similar setting: a gigantic mechanical operated cubical structure which consists of many smaller cubical rooms. Each room has six vault doors, which lead to other similar rooms. In each story, a group of strangers awakens in this mysterious cubical structure with no memory of how or why they are there. As they move forward in the structure they soon find out that each room has lethal booby traps. They are triggered by either sound or motion. As mentioned before these films are independent films which mean they were made with a low budget. The first film “Cube” was released in 1997, the second film “Cube 2: Hypercube” was released in 2002, and the third film “Cube Zero” was released in 2004.

Cube (1997)  Cube 2 Hypercube (2002) Cube Zero (2004)

For the first film keep in mind that these were the nineties and since they had a low budget, not much could be done with special effects, even though they were not really that important because the story was led by the characters and not the special effects. Knowing this, I will never understand why the critics panned the special effects. It is an independent movie and from the nineties, can’t expect a blockbuster quality type of special effects.

The Cube series is highly considered as a complex franchise which stories are based around a mysterious cube. The fun part is that the viewer is getting the same information as the characters on screen. There are some clues in the story but according to the filmmakers keeping aspects of the Cube ambiguous was intended and deliberate. In the end, this strategy worked because till today people are still discussing the theories around this film series.

Having said this, this series is not for everyone. The death scenes are gory, if you’re familiar with “Saw” franchise, you wouldn’t have a problem watching these films.  Same as the characters you don’t know what’s going to happen, you are as lost and confused as they are, you are left in suspense. Furthermore what these films do is leave you with many questions. Have I mentioned that these are thought-provoking horror films? No? Well, this could explain why these films are “not the cup of tea” for everyone.

Until recently I haven’t heard about this franchise until it was recommended to me. I did some research, just enough to know what to expect before watching the films which are really difficult since spoilers are everywhere. I found out these are low budget independent film which was not the favorite of critics, certainly not the first and the second films. Suddenly I had enough reasons to check this franchise.  As a viewer you are kept in the dark about the world in which the story takes place, it is not clear who is responsible for the Cube and how people arrive in the cube. Hints are given in the second and third film but there is no concrete explanation.

How it all started?

Writer and Director Vincenzo Natali created a short film titled “Elevated” The short was filmed in an elevator. It was intended to give producers an idea of how Cube would hypothetically look like. Eventually, Natali got the financing he needed to start the project. The first film appears to take place in current times. What is interesting about the first film is that all character’s names are depicted from real prisons in Russia, U.S.A, U.K, and France. This tiny bit of information goes probably the first hint I would say but you’ll have to watch it to know more

The Cube design for the first film was created by David. W. Pavica. The cube consists of a cubical shell and the inner Cube. The inner cube consists of 17,576 (26 3 ) rooms, each having a side length of 15.5 feet. Each room has there identification numbers. These numbers encode the starting coordinates of the room. The numbers also determine the movement of the room and the subsequent positions are obtained by cubically subtracting the digits from one another. The resulting numbers are then successively added to the starting numbers. There is no indication of where or when the cube was built, or who build it. Is that so? The characters waking up in the cube are wondering the same thing as the audience.

The second film is a different story with a new group of people trapped in the Cube. This time the Cube is not an elaborated mechanical structure but slowly closing in on itself appears to control time, space and reality the industrial styled colored rooms are replaced with high tech, brightly lit chambers. This time it’s about time-disruptions, time travel, and possibly parallel universes.

I have to admit that I was a little bit lost watching this movie. And the ending leaves you with even more questions which appear to be the intention of the filmmakers if you have the DVD, there is an alternate ending that gives a little bit more information.  Same as the first film, the second film in the series also received mixed reviews but was not as well received with the audience, which I could possibly understand.

The first film introduced the concept, the second film showed a more sophisticated technologically advanced concept and the third film gave us some answers on where it all started.

The third film is a prequel to the series. This time we will see people on the outside of the Cube who control the Cube and oversee those who went in it. It reveals more information but it still leaves some unanswered questions. I guess this is what the filmmakers wanted to give longevity to the franchise relevance and in a way it worked because they gained a cult following which is still growing over the years. There have been talks of a remake of the series in 2015. With the technology that we have today, more can be achieved with the making independent films that 10 years ago so I have no doubt that more interesting stories can be made based on this Cube concept.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned before I wasn’t aware of this series until recently.  I enjoyed watching the films probably because I had very low expectations and was pleasantly surprised with the first film. If I had followed what is said online I would have probably never seen these Sci-Fi films. Thanks to Cristina for recommending them to me. I tried my best to give you only the highlights without many spoilers. It was an interesting watch, the first film definitely is. I hope this was as interesting for you as it was for me.

Have you seen any of the Cube films?  Are you familiar with the franchise? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the comment section below.

8 thoughts on “Looking into the Cube [Film] Series

  1. Great movies and very good review Dira. I have watched all the cube series and are fantastic indeed. I captures you all the way till the end.I Think even if are not so new films… will stand the test of time. What do you think?
    The concept behind the movies is good and the acting also.
    Thanks for bringing back to my memory and i think i will watch them again. thank you Dira:)
    Have a good day and i will be back soon.
    Cristina

    1. Hi Cristina,

      They are indeed interesting, especially the first movie in the series.
      They probably do but like its happening with a lot of franchises these days, I think we will either see a remake or reboot soon.
      Thanks for taking some time to read my article 🙂

  2. I saw the first Cube shortly after it came out and was a huge fan. I do recall seeing the second and third, but was less interested in them. I like low-budget high concept, small cast sci fi and I thought with those restrictions that it was actually really well done. Super cool review, glad you enjoyed them, too! I’d be ALL about a Cube reboot, as long as it didn’t tank horribly like Saw.

    1. Hi Penelope,

      Thanks for commenting!
      I’m still puzzled about how these films were completely out of my radar. I enjoyed the first film and I am in the same boat as you about the second and the third but I liked the concept.

  3. Thank you for informing us about the Cube film series! Gory death scenes? Sign me up! 🙂 I never heard of these so I will be watching. The 2nd one about time-disruptions, time travel, and possibly parallel universes seems very interesting. Great read!

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I am glad it got you curious to check them out. The first one is definitely interesting.
      Thanks a lot for commenting!

  4. I’ll be honest, i didn’t know there was 2 more cube films. I remember seeing the first one with my parents when i was younger and it was great! At that time those were the best special effects so it was suspenseful for the 10 y/o me, looking at it now it’s almost funny.
    Thank you sharing more details of the whole series, I think it’s worth a shot watching the other 2, i enjoy films that leave you with questions, making you speculate and immersing you in tons of different theories…they even help you reflect, they put my brain to work.
    Do you know where i could find this films online?
    Since i think it might be hard to find them on DVD…

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