Top underrated horror ‘gems’ – #9 Cube

*Read my previous articles of the list to check out the general premise*

Cube (1997) is directed by Vincenzo Natali, a Canadian director with a clear Italian background. Cube was his debut feature movie, which conquered the general appreciation of critics and public.

Nevertheless, the film has been quickly forgotten by the viewers, even though it’s probably the inspiration for the famous Saw franchise. Or probably because Saw itself stole the stage.

Either ways, the plot consists of a small group of people locked up into an absurd structure with apparently no purpose whatsoever. Their goal is that to find a way out from that gigantic framework composed by smaller cubes of different colours, everyone consisting of different traps.

With a runtime of less than 90 minutes, this movie is a fast ride through tension, paranoia and arguments between the characters.

About them, what is immediately clear to the viewer is that their chemistry works perfectly throughout the film. In particular, the performances of David Hewlett – Worth – and Andrew Miller – the autistic guy named Kazan – definitely steal the show. The other guys, honestly, do just fine, but as I said their interaction is able to elevate the single, individual acting.

The only character I didn’t buy – not even for a minute – was Holloway, whose reactions are exaggerated by Nicky Guadagni, who didn’t keep up with the other cast members.

Beyond the protagonists’ interaction, what I do love about this movie is the sense of uncertainty developed step by step, cube by cube. The dark and paranoiac atmosphere surrounds every moment of Cube giving strength and solid base to all the theories the characters are raising to explain – first to themselves – what the hell is going on.

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Moreover, both the camera work and the photography are awesome and fully spot on. They are able to exploit all the anxiety and tension of the characters, even without being ground-breaking, but utilising the colours in a very mature and compelling way.

Another thing I really like about the Cube is the mathematical aspect of it. According to Wikipedia and other – more reliable – sources, “the fictional Cube device in the film was conceived by David W. Pravica, a notable mathematician. It consists of an outer cubical shell (the sarcophagus) and the inner cube”. All the digits mentioned in the movie are so indubitably correct.

Furthermore, only one cube, measuring 14 by 14 by 14 feet, was actually built, with only one working door that could actually support the weight of the actors. The colour of the room was changed by sliding panels.

Not being a mathematician myself – and actually hating math – I still appreciate all the effort and the precision that the director and his crew put in the making process of the film. To me, the practical effects and the accuracy behind Cube make it hold up quite well 20 years after it first came out.

On the contrary, the two or three scenes built on the special effects look kind of lame and unbelievable nowadays.

For all these reasons, and also for the open ending, for all the mystery and the thrilling sequences I think Cube should have a better consideration among the horror fans.

I mean, I like the first installment of the Saw franchise. As much as I hate all the money-grabbing sequels. It is genuinely unsettling and the plot twist is totally unexpected. Still, since Cube is basically the Saw of the 90s, I think it should be watched as the cult movie it is indeed.

All in all, I’m a fan of Cube. As many times as I re-watch it, it’s always the same good movie as it was the first time I’ve seen it. If you guys are fan of psychological, claustrophobic thrillers, this film is strongly recommended. If you like the first Saw movie, go watch the film that gave James Wan the inspiration. Cheers.

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