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Cube

Year: 1997
Production Co: Feature Film Project
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writer: Vincenzo Natali

I never know quite what to expect from Vincenzo Natali's films - a good thing, I suppose, as he's always different. Though he specialises in extreme surrealism, I never expected him to do slapstick comedy about two buffoons, so I hated Nothing. He cut his teeth with that approach with this, his calling card.

A lot of films like this are a director's comment on our sense of self importance, about how we'll play with or torment a colony of insects just to see how they react, but that we should be careful because there might be a power in the universe - maybe among humanity itself - that will happily do the same to us.

Seven strangers from a cop to a mathematician and a conjurer to a company man find themselves in a huge structure of cube-shaped rooms, each one equipped with doors on the six faces that leads to identical rooms beyond.

The challenge is obviously to find their way out, and the stakes are made higher because a seeming random number of rooms contain deadly traps that slice, dice, maim and gas their victims to death.

When they collectively realises someone's put them there for sport, the group surmises they've been chosen for various skills they should combine to try and escape. As they use the mysterious numbers at every portal to figure out there's actually a pattern, they slowly makes their way towards what they hope is freedom and in the true style of the genre, allegiances form, tempers fray and violence simmers, making it as much a character study as a sci-fi thriller.

Some of the mechanical details in the script and performances are a little rough around the edges, but the idea is strong enough to carry the film and keep you interested. It would have been both a nightmare and a joy to design and co-ordinate the production, so it's front and centre, the Cube structure is a star in itself, especially later in the film where you see glimpses of its edge and the outside world.

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