Cube 2: Hypercube

Director: Andrzej Sekula
Writer: Sean Hood
Release Date: 2002

Imagine with me the following scenario:

It's been a lovely night. You came home from the lab a little late, but your spouse didn't even mention it. He/she realizes that your work for the government is very important to both you and the nation at large, and she's been busy most of the night attending to your sick aunt, who isn't doing so well these days. If you weren't around to take care of her, the financial burden on your family would be unfathomable. The kids would have to drop out of middle school, for instance, and your wife would have to skip her insulin injections every once in a while to afford enough packets of ramen noodles to keep the kids from starving. Your youngest child, Alice, has a prosthetic leg, but it broke last week during an ironic game of kickball and she needs to get a new one at the end of the month. Thank God you've got a good job working for the Department of Defense, you think, slipping into the warm embrace of sleep.

You wake up in a cold white room, completely alone, unsure of how you got there. You realize with abject horror that you can't remember your name. The room is a cube; there are six small square hatches on each wall. You peek through one, only to see that beyond it is another room that looks exactly the same.

You are inside The Cube.

Cube first aired in Canada to a multitude of sci-fi/horror fans who were awestruck at its combined simplicity and beauty. In the United States, the film gained some notoriety when The Sci-Fi Channel began screening it regularly. The plot is very simple: A handful of people wake up in a cube, unsure of how they got there or why they're there. They move from room to room, but some are filled with horrible traps, killing them off one by one. In one room, acid sprays from the walls, melting your skin so that it peels off of your body. In another you're frozen in liquid nitrogen and then broken into a million pieces, just like Sub Zero's finishing move on the original Mortal Kombat video game.

If you find yourself trapped inside The Cube, it will become your mother, your father, your lover, and your only friend. It will be your preacher, teacher, and president. You will kneel before The Cube. The Cube will give you everything you've ever wanted just before it kills you in the most inhumane of ways imaginable. The Cube giveth and it taketh away.

Three of these films were made, and they were so incredibly formulaic that they're almost the same movie. Cube 2: Hypercube, however, does stand out from the other two. Most noticeably, The Cube is not a cube at all. The writers decided to add another dimension to the film in the most obvious of ways: by adding another dimension to The Cube itself. Wait just a moment and see if just how meta that is sinks in before continuing to the next paragraph.

So, technically, it's not even a cube anymore, but a tesseract. There are other changes as well: the rooms move instantly now instead of closing in dreadfully slow, and the traps are bizarre and more mathematically inspired; instead of blowtorches or acid sprays, traps in this installment toss spinning tesseracts at their prey, speed up time, distort space, and generally play with high-level physics. Alternate dimensions exist as a function of the bending of time and space, meaning unlucky individuals can appear to die multiple times.

Aside from these differences, Hypercube is essentially identical to the other films in the series. Some people stand around talking about the past and slowly uncovering the reasons they might have been put into this nightmarish situation, and occasionally one of them dies in a horrible way. Most of them (if not all) are connected to the company that constructed The Cube.

In fact, you can understand any of the films in the series by studying these simple commandments:

The 9.5 Commandments of The Cube

  1. At least one ethnic minority must be present in each film's installment.

  2. Apparently, racial diversity is important to the writers behind the Cube series, and each of these movies includes at least one (but usually just one) token minority character. Cube Zero and Cube both feature large, intimidating African American men, but they mixed it up in Hypercube and threw in a genius Asian girl. The Cube doesn't discriminate. All humans are reduced to nothing but tragedy fodder within its walls, regardless of ethnic background.

  3. One person inside The Cube must go crazy and attempt to kill the other prisoners.

  4. It doesn't take a Cube Studies major to understand the mental toll The Cube takes out on its unfortunate inhabitants. Since sci-fi and horror writers seem incapable of putting a handful of people in a tense situation without making one of them snap, these films follow suit. Bonus: Remember the first commandment? Well, if the minority present is one of the large African American men, he'll be the one that goes crazy. (Commandment 2.5.) This is true 1000 percent of the time.

  5. Never question who built The Cube.

  6. The fastest way to find yourself "cubed" is to ask who built it or what for. We're pretty sure it's some shady government organization, but we're never positive. The Cube invites countless questions: Why, for instance, would you build it in the first place? If it's an elaborate way to execute enemies of the state, why not just shoot them in the head? Why spend untold billions to construct this? Unfortunately, asking these questions aloud is as good as volunteering for a death inside The Cube itself. Hypercube does offer some material for possible theories, but it's sparingly useful and raises as many questions as it answers.

  7. If you were involved in the construction or the planning of The Cube, you will meet your death inside The Cube.

  8. Do people not understand that helping create something that's so inconceivably malicious will come back to haunt them? It's like building a medieval castle or helping construct a pharaoh's tomb — you're pretty much guaranteed to be killed when you're no longer of use in order to protect the ruler's secrets. Hypercube features the death of not only one of this Cube's most important organizers, but also its very designer.

  9. In every evolution of The Cube, only one person is allowed to solve the puzzle and escape.

  10. Don't get your hopes up thinking this means someone always gets out. That's a maximum of one person. In at least one of the movies, nobody gets out alive, which is kind of a downer. Then again, nobody said The Cube cared about your emotional state. For whatever reason, the creators of The Cube constructed it kind of like a puzzle, so if you're really ingenious you can actually figure out how to escape it, though when you do they send armed soldiers after you. If it pisses them off so badly for people to get out, you'd think they'd leave the whole puzzle aspect out, but, again, questioning these things earns you few answers and a one-way ticket to Hell's favorite six-sided geometric structure.

  11. No matter the number of dimensions, the constant factor is pain.

  12. Make no mistake. The Cube is not here to play around.

  13. Sexual relations within The Cube are severely frowned upon and will ultimately lead to the participants' demise.

  14. Sex angers The Cube. Surprisingly, this actually does happen. In the midst of a life and death scramble from room to room, dodging spinning blades and trying to avoid the one guy who's trying to kill everyone else, some people will still decide to take a timeout to get laid. Needless to say, they die in the process. Sex in scary movies is almost always fatal, and the two lovebirds in Hypercube have one of the most entertaining deaths in the whole series, rapidly aging into corpses during a confusing zero-gravity love scene.

  15. When the mathematician of the group dies, you die.

  16. If you don't have a degree in quantum physics, you might as well kill yourself now and save The Cube the trouble. It's only fair to point out that, for the most part, everyone dies, so the mathematician's death shouldn't come as a huge shock, but math always becomes the only hope for escape. If someone can solve the way The Cube works, maybe there's a way out, right? Well, usually, the mathematician goes in a horrible way, totally ruining the morale of the group. Once the mathematician dies, the real slaughter begins.

  17. You can't outsmart The Cube.

  18. Someone always seems to think they can come up with a trick to avoid traps. Cube Zero featured the so-called "shoe technique" at some length, which made appearances elsewhere in the series as well. It entails removing a shoe and throwing it into a room before entering, hopefully to set off any traps in the room before going in. This is pioneered by The French Guy (never named), who claims he hasn't seen anyone else in The Cube yet, which doesn't actually make sense. See, the interesting thing about that little maneuver is that it clearly never worked at all, yet they tried it more than once. Think this through. If he had actually thrown his shoe into a room with a trap and it did activate it, the shoe would've been destroyed, right? Since he has the shoe at the beginning of the film, then, one may make the logical assertion that he has not yet encountered a trap. (Which raises the question - how does he know they're there?) So, the first time he does see a trap, it kills him. Shoes can't stop The Cube. Wouldn't that be a bit too easy?

In the final analysis, you can try anything you'd like, but it's pointless. We can only assume that if you're in The Cube you probably did something to deserve to be there, so you should accept your inevitable annihilation as some sort of karmic payback.

If you're on a quest to watch each of the movies, note that Cube Zero (a prequel) was the third one filmed. It focuses on the fate of one of the original Cube's employees, a math genius who monitors the inhabitants via video monitor as they struggle towards their pitiful deaths within the twisted bowels of The Cube. The film's prequel status was lamented by some fans, many of whom felt that marketing for a third Cube movie practically wrote itself. Cube Cubed, anyone?