Cube has many similarities to Andrei Tarkovskys masterwork Stalker (1979), which was also about a group of people traversing an inexplicable alien terrain. Both Cube and Stalker are transcendental stories where the alienness of the landscape that the characters are in eventually allows them to achieve a conceptual breakthrough in understanding. Here the puzzling out of the mathematical nature of the labyrinth and the unfolding of how each character has a part to play in the solution makes for a fascinating mystery. The agency behind the creation of the labyrinth is left deliberately vague.
For Tarkovsky in Stalker, the alien landscape was a desolate metaphor for existential faith. In Cube, the alien landscape is construed as Kafka-esque in nature. The film echoes Franz Kafkas ideas of people trapped inside vast systems that seem to operate devoid of or with purposes that seem to circle around one another. There is the scene where the character of David, the groups cynic, explains his part in the design of the project: Its a headless blunder under the illusion of a masterplan. This is a forgotten perpetual public project. (Although, the sense of nobody being in control fails to explain how people are chosen to take place in the complex). Later the film digs some potent barbs at The X Files (1993-2002) type government cover-up conspiracy paranoia with Nicky Guadagni believing they are in a giant military machine before Maurice Dean Wint turns on her: The military-industrial complex? Have you ever been there? Theyre just ordinary guys like you and me.
The characterisation is beautifully written and acted. There is a haunting scene where the group consider the intellectually handicapped Kazan a liability and want to leave him behind, saying Well come back for him and Nicky Guadagni turns on them You know thats a lie. Maurice Dean Wints disintegration is well written and acted, with the scenes where he conducts deliberate murder coming as a considerable shock. Nicole de Boer, a Canadian actress who had previously worked in tv, gives an interesting performance. This was the part that had her chosen to go on to play the regular part of Ezri Dax in the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1992-9) her part in Deep Space Nine was irritating but here one can find some solid acting from de Boer. Andrew Miller gives an excellent performance as the autistic Kazan the final image of him departing is a delightful touch.
Despite looking far more expensive, Cube is a low-budget film. The filmmakers ingenuity is to have only built a single set one of the rooms and to alter the look of it with the use of multi-coloured lighting.
Following Cube, director Vincenzo Natali went onto make Cypher (2002), a cool and intelligent thriller about brainwashing and identity; Nothing (2003), a fascinating film about two slackers who suddenly find that the entire world outside of their home has vanished and become an empty white void; the genetically-engineered creature movie Splice (2010); the ghost story Haunter (2013); and the U is for Utopia segment of ABCs of Death 2 (2014). For a number of years, Natali was originally announced as the director of the adaptation of J.G. Ballards High-Rise (2015) and more recently has been announced to direct an adaptation of William Gibsons seminal Cyberpunk classic Neuromancer (1984). Natali also executive produced the Found Footage surveillance stalker film 388 Arletta Avenue (2011). These confirm Vincenzo Natali as one of the most promising directors of the 2000s and beyond. Co-writer Graeme Manson later co-created the hit cloning tv series Orphan Black (2013 ).