- Gareth Crook
You can’t beat a good opening scene and this has one of the best in the sci-fi horror genre. It doesn’t mess around from that initial sharpener either. At an economical 90 minutes, there’s little time for pleasantries. We’re trapped in a cube. A cube of cubes. All interlocking, with 6 doors each and many booby trapped. The ensemble cast don’t know why they’re there or how. There’s 6 of them... after number 7 gets diced before the opening credits. They’re left to navigate an escape through this psychological Crystal Maze. We’ve got a doctor, a cop, a criminal, a math nerd... an architect. It’s a bit tropey, a bit cheesy, especially Quentin (Maurice Dean Wint) the cop, who plays his role wonderfully over the top and Holloway (Nicky Guadagni) the doc, whose paranoia, although functional is a bit annoying. It’s a genius idea though. Essentially the same set, same room, same cube, lit differently. The repetition adds to the building tension, as the team start to lose their collective marbles. Tracking numbers, deciphering one another, what does it all mean? Why are they there? and what connects them? They’re not an altogether likeable bunch, that is until Kazan (Andrew Miller) drops in. He falls through the ceiling door of one room and into the lives of our wannabe escape artists. He’s mentally disabled, unencumbered by the social bullshit of the group dynamic and all the stronger for it. There’s some lovely set pieces too, the room trapped with sound sensors and the realisation that the rooms are moving. It does have a very solid 90s aesthetic, largely down to its soundtrack, but you can’t hold that against it, it’s great piece of cinema. A bit cult, possibly classic. Director Vincenzo Natali I don’t think has topped this on the big screen, but has had a hand in some pretty great TV. He certainly has a gift for working a good idea on a budget. Apparently he was down to direct the Tremors reboot, which would’ve been worth a watch had it not been canned.