Cube Zero (2004)

cubezeroJust so we know where we stand, I disliked Cube, and hated Cube 2: Hypercube, both films that made the basic horror/science fiction fan cream their pants. Though the concepts were original, the writers and creators did very little with it and thus we were given much repetition in both. One is about a bunch of people in a cube maze with death traps, Cube 2 was just basically a lot more of the same thing, and it seems to me the creators figured out that they needed to change it or else continue repeating the same old stuff, so they created this prequel/semi-sequel called “Cube Zero”.

This time around it’s still the basic premise, except now we finally get to see what in god’s name is the cube, who or what controls the cube, and why the cube is there. Meanwhile we now have three sub-plots going, the people within the cube who end up dying pretty quickly one by one, the people who control the cube looking for a way to catch them, and the kindly computer operator who has mistakenly sympathized for one of the victims inside the cube and is now intent on helping her. Surprisingly this film is very cheesy. One thing I have to give the first two “Cube” films credit for was the sense of urgency and stark tension that really made the audience feel as if any moment they would die at the end of one of the cube’s many death traps.

This is more concerned with really making a joke out of the concept which wasn’t that much of a task either way, but still ruins the feel. And this mostly ends up relying on being campy when the predecessors were reliant on being creepy, and with the character Jax looking like a reject from a “Full Moon” production, he’s too goofy for such a high concept movie, especially one that delves in to the origins of the cube before the first film. As for the deaths, they’re just as gruesome this time around from a disease that eats the face, and the opening death which was surprisingly disturbing. This is much more entertaining than the first two, which I was admittedly hesitant to accept overall, and it’s a lot of fun once the film gets going. I was worried this was going to be exactly just like all the previous films but it ends up becoming much more different with more villains added for the sake of a human antagonist that isn’t a part of the mechanism (Great job Michael Riley).

We’re also shown some truly brutal scenes of torture that work really well here. As with the other cubes, there’s a different look and feel for this cube, this time around. The original cube was colored, the second one was stark, and this one is very grimy and dingy but packs a real punch with the death devices that really do burst with blood and guts for those who love it. In the end, the climax is very pleasing and entertaining with a surprise development leading in to the first film. I’d definitely suggest this one over the others. Though many times goofy and very campy, with the concept being sadly altered for the expense of cheesy scenes, this is the better of the “Cube” movies with a great story, plenty of tension, and a pleasing surprise ending.