Imagine being trapped in an ominously symmetrical, empty, metal-framed room — a cube with six sliding windows (in the ceiling, the floor, and all four walls), each of which leads to…another identical cube. Some of the adjoining cubes are booby-trapped with hell-raiser death devices. In one, knifelike wires slice you into neat chunks; in another, you’re doused with acid. Are we having fun yet? For anyone who has been dying to see a claustrophobic puzzle-contraption nightmare in which six anonymous victims fight their way out of an oversize Rubik’s Cube torture chamber, Cube is definitely what the doctor ordered. For everyone else, this very Canadian thriller (i.e., no humor, lots of literal-minded future-shock portentousness) certainly does a number on you, though not necessarily a pleasurable one; the experience is more akin to that of being locked in a Skinner box. Directing his first film, Vincenzo Natali builds the tension with grueling relentlessness, but it’s purely mechanical tension. We have no stake in the stick-figure characters or their monotonous quarrels. They’re just meat inching through the void, trying to sidestep instant oblivion. C
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