Dir. Yasuhiko Shimizu (2021)
Strangers are trapped in a cube that is trying to kill them in this Japanese remake of the 1997 original film.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Cube changed the game when it was released in 1997, the true forefather of the torture porn genre that inspired the likes of Saw, Hostel, and the countless imitators that followed. It was filled with outstanding special effects, ingenious traps, and a mysterious plot that worked to perfection. There have been a couple of sequels already, and the film was rife for a remake due to the improvements in technology and CGI and the eventuality that Hollywood will remake every movie that’s ever existed. This time, however, the Japanese got the leg up on us, remaking the American film before we could get around to remaking it ourselves.
Part of the brilliance of the first film was that it showed nothing of the outside world, trapping the audience inside the cube with its victims. It was mysterious, brutal, and inescapable, and the unexplained cube was all the scarier for it. This Japanese remake decides to explore life outside the cube through flashbacks and, at one point, a video screen that appears on one wall of the cube. Also missing from this remake are the attributes of each character that make them beneficial to escaping the cube. Rather than the math genius or the cube designer, the latter hinting at the purpose and desires of the people behind the cube’s construction, we just get a random crew of people who are not particularly well equipped to do much of anything, much less survive the cube’s traps. These choices, while making for a tiny bit of a different movie, also makes the movie less compelling than the original that it all-too-often copies from.
It’s odd that an American film gets a Japanese remake rather than the other way around. We’ve seen countless American remakes of Japanese films, it would seem largely because Americans are generally only concerned with movies that speak English and come from a Euro-centric point of view. I’ve always kind of assumed that, because American-produced media tends to run the market in most of the world, if people wanted our movies they would just watch our movies. Seeing a foreign remake of an American film is always intriguing, and Cube does a pretty good job of being an effective remake of the original, though it at times fails to capture the same desolate feeling of the original.
One place where the film does live up to its billing is the ending. I won’t give it away here, but its sort of a two-pronged ending, the first of which hearkens back to the points made in my second paragraph and the second of which rewrites the book by paving the way for numerous sequels to come. The first part was a little discouraging, especially given the hopeless nature of the American original, but the second part is an interesting take on the film’s lore and something that could definitely be dug further into if they wanted to make another film. I’ll watch pretty much any movie where “people are trapped inside something that’s going to kill them,” so if that means more Cube, then I’m all for it. While the acting was nothing to write home about, that can be attributed at least a little bit to the cultural differences inherent in Asian films, so I won’t critique that here.
Who this movie is for: Scifi fans, Horror remake aficionados, Numbers geeks
Bottom line: While not nearly as effective as the original and lacking a lot of the low-budget-yet-innovative charm, Cube is still competent and interesting enough to make it worth a watch. The acting was not particularly great, but the director has an eye for the camera that makes the film worthwhile. While I do think the film could’ve used a bit more gore, it’s still a Cube movie, and if you’re a fan of the original, you should give this one a shot. It’s going to be streaming on Screambox, and if I haven’t already given you enough reasons to subscribe, I don’t know what else to tell you