A low-budget sci-fi gore-fest, “Cube” is the brainchild of first-time director Vincenzo Natali, who’s since gone on to work mostly in television, helming episodes of “Hannibal,” “Orphan Black,” and “Westworld.” However, back in the late ’90s, Natali managed to take a paltry $250,000 budget and turn it not just into a multi-million dollar earner but a multi-film franchise with a diehard following.
Part mystery, part thriller, and all terror, “Cube” introduces a cast of strangers who all awaken to find themselves trapped in a strange series of cube-shaped rooms, with no idea how they got there or why. Each room is rigged with a deadly trap, and the rag-tag group must work together to solve a puzzle and escape a seemingly inescapable death trap. More than a decade ahead of its time, when movies like “Hostel” and “Saw” gained traction with similar themes, “Cube” helped popularize an entire sub-genre of isolation horror. It also earned nearly $9 million at the ticket counter.
Helped by a mostly-unknown cast, a lot of money was saved by using the same cube-shaped set for every torture chamber, with differently-colored lighting expressing a new room. A true cult classic, it received two follow-ups, a sequel called “Cube 2: Hypercube” in 2002 and the prequel “Cube Zero” in 2004. A Japanese remake landed in 2021.