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Cube is a Canadian science fiction/horror film series. The three movies are each based on the same premise; there is a gigantic, mechanical, cube-shaped structure (the purpose and origin of which is almost completely unknown) that is made up of lots of smaller cube-shaped rooms. Each of these rooms has 6 doors, one on each wall and one on the ceiling and one on the floor, which lead into adjacent, identical rooms, only differing by color. Some of these rooms are safe, while others are equipped with booby traps such as flamethrowers and razorwire which kill a person who enters the room (in some cases it is possible to detect a trap by throwing a boot into the room first, except in Cube 2: Hypercube where the traps are less distinct - in the form of an abstract shape and visual effects - and less predictable).
In each case, a group of strangers wakes up in this mysterious structure, with no knowledge of how they got there or why they are there. In order to escape from the prison, however, they must band together and use their combined skills and talents to avoid the traps and navigate out of the maze, while also trying to solve the mystery of what the cube is and why they are in it. However, the pressure of being in the cube usually drives one or more of the characters insane, and they start killing the others.
Cube Zero was slightly different from the original two movies in that it also dealt with some people on the outside of the cube whose job it was to control the cube and oversee those within. It also attempted to answer some of the questions of the series.
Not to be confused with The Cube.
This series contains examples of
The entire series
- Anyone Can Die
- Arbitrary Skepticism:
- In the first movie, Holloway and Quentin both during their discussion of each other's pet theories on the origins of the Cube. She believes that the military-industrial complex created the place, which he dismisses because he believes government organizations are just composed of people like him, whose goals in live are to "buy big boats", not conspire. Quentin believes that the structure is a rich psychopath's entertainment, comparing it to The Man with the Golden Gun, to which Holloway reacts as if he just said that the moon is made of cheese. Granted that Quentin’s theory is more outlandish than hers (and his citing of a stereotypical Bond villain doesn't really help his argument), but she didn't need to start acting like a Jerkass by ridiculing him for it (Not that it makes his murder of her partly in retribution for this any more justified).
- In Hypercube, Max calls the rest of the group crazy for even considering that space and time could be distorted in the cube (despite repeatedly witnessing things that are physically impossible, such as the rooms instantaneously moving around) and argues that there has to be a logical explanation, such as an optical illusion. At the same time he berates the others for not believing in his conspiracy theories, and is convinced that the cube is operated by a mysterious superhacker called Alex Trusk.
- Ax Crazy: Quentin in Cube, Simon in Hypercube.
- Audible Sharpness: Razor Wire in the first and third movie; The tesseract trap in Hypercube.
- Big Labyrinthine Building: The Cube.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Holloway in the first movie, Max in the second.
- Cut and Paste Environments: All of the rooms look the exact same minus the colours, justified because it's a maze. The makers only had a limited budget to build five sets.
- Death Course: The Cube again.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: In Cube, the chances of Quentin in the room right next to the bridge room where the other characters are is about 20,000 to 1, considering that the rooms move around.
- Door to Before: A rare movie version of this; justified because the rooms move around. Hypercube does this even more confusingly.
- Empty Room Until the Trap: Played straight by almost every room in the series, but for some unexplained reason averted in the room that killed Meyerhold in Cube: Zero, which still contains the "remains" of multiple people.
- The rooms that contain corpses continue to contain them until the Clean Sweep. There were just that many people in there.
- But none of the other trapped rooms had people in them. Why was this the only trap that killed not one, but multiple people? For that matter, if there were corpses in the room, why did more people keep going in?
- The rooms that contain corpses continue to contain them until the Clean Sweep. There were just that many people in there.
- Enclosed Space: the individual cubical rooms.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: A good 95% of the rooms and maybe half of your fellow prisoners.
- Final Girl:
- Cube features a cute, innocent girl in the cast of prisoners, but it's the mentally retarded boy who survives, apparently by being even more innocent.
- Hypercube appears to play it straight, with a wholesome blonde surviving to the end but not much further — she's revealed to be a government operative who, after her de-briefing, is executed to keep the secrets secure.
- Cube Zero plays it straight with Raines.
- A House Divided: Recurring plot point. In the original the booby traps only kill two of the seven characters. In the second it's the guy with the knife who goes on a killing spree, while the third has one character wirelessly "reactivated" as a supersoldier.
- Kill'Em All: the survival rate in the series' entries is, successively, 1:0:2.
- Living Labyrinth: The Cube once again.
- Locked in a Freezer: Obviously, nearly the entire Cube is a trap. There's also the added bonus of having a limited time frame to escape (before you simply starve to death or die of dehydration, that is).
- The Maze: The whole point of the series.
- Malevolent Architecture: Also the whole point of the series.
- Mind Screw: The first movie intentionally gives no explanations for anything. The second and third movies do, but as they were written and directed by different people, they can't get the internal logic straight. The DVD commentary on the first one states in no uncertain terms that the world outside the cube does not exist. It doesn't withhold explanations as much as erase every possibility that explanations could exist.
- Hypercube: "The first one had rules."
- Minimalism: There are fewer than five sets in the entire first film. The other two to a lesser extent, although they also use a very minimal number of sets and locations.
- Mobile Maze: See Door to Before.
- Ontological Mystery: Aside from being a basic survival story this is the major plot point of the movies, particularely the first one, although the sequels adhere to this progressively less and less.
- Room 101: While never specifically revealed, there is some speculation that the cube is one of these. Even if you manage to live through the deadly deathtraps of death, the massive psychological horror experienced within might make you wish you hadn't. And that's only if the people outside the cube don't immediately kill you.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The mazes featured in the series, doubly so the Hypercube, which is implied to be non-Euclidian space folded into a single room.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Across the series:
- In the original Cube, characters are repeatedly set up as heroes in an escape for their lives from a mechanical maze, but they all end up dying or being killed by another character, except for The Rainman character. He would be the only person who could sound the alarm or summon help, but would not be able to communicate the situation, assuming he understood it at all.
- The sequel Hypercube is even worse. After many perils, the main heroine manages to escape the maze but once her superior has received what she was sent in to find, he has her unceremoniously executed for no apparent reason. Her facial expressions indicate that she knows what's coming, but she does not try to resist or escape.
- Cube Zero, a prequel to Cube shown from the point of view of the maze operators, reveals that the savant was in all likelihood killed by the operators moments after the first film's ambiguous ending due to a cryptic line near the start of the movie. It also turns Rains manages to escape, but will continue to be pursued until recaptured. Wynn is lobotomized and thrown back in the Cube like many Cube "Operators" before him. Everybody else dies except for the villains.
- Sinister Geometry: And the Cube again.
- You All Meet in a Cell: More or less.
- Big No: Holloway, as she falls to her death.
- Canada, Eh?: A Canadian film, although probably the only hints would be a single mention of Saskatoon and the way Leaven refers to the letter "z" as "zed".
- Clean Cut: Razor wire.
- Dead Star Walking: The guy billed as the star of the movie and pictured on the poster gets diced five minutes in.
- Decoy Protagonist: Alderson. Most of the other characters could arguably fit this trope at one point or another; one of the selling points of the movie is that the viewer's perception of the characters is meant to change as the movie progresses.
- Diagonal Cut: Razor wire.
- Fade to White
- Famous Last Words: "I can live with that."
- Rennes combines this with Foreign Cuss Word.
- Good with Numbers: Leaven, and Kazan even more so.
- Laughing Mad: Worth, briefly, upon rediscovering Rennes's dead body.
- Location Theme Naming / Meaningful Name / Theme Naming: All the characters are named after prisons. Quentin is named after San Quentin State Prison in California, Holloway after the Holloway Prison in London, Kazan after the prison in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. Rennes is named after a prison in Rennes, Britanny, France, Alderson after the prison in Alderson, West Virginia, and Leaven and Worth after the prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. The characters themselves reflect the prisons in their traits. Kazan (the autistic man) is a disorganized prison. Rennes (the "mentor") pioneered many of today's prison policies. Quentin (the policeman who eventually goes Ax Crazy) is known for brutality. Holloway is a women's prison. Alderson (who is killed before even so much as seeing another human being within the cube) is a prison where isolation is a common punishment. Leavenworth runs on a rigid set of rules (Leaven's mathematics), and the new prison is corporately owned and built (Worth, hired as an architect).
- Potential Fridge Brilliance here: There are two prisons at Forth Leavenworth: The civilian United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, and the military United States Disciplinary Barracks.
- Meaningful Echo: Partway through the movie, Quentin says "Trust me on this. It's my job to read people like an x-ray." This is later echoed as "Try and see what I see. How my mind works. The flash when I look into someone's head like a fucking x-ray!", turning a previously innocuous line into proof of just how crazed and delusional he really is.
- Moral Event Horizon: Quentin crosses it in-universe when he allows Holloway to drop to her death, then goes even further along when he tries to abandon Worth and Kazan, tries to rape Leaven, and violently beats Worth with a boot. It is after this that Leaven refuses to go anywhere near him.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Worth, which he lampshades. He ends up helping the others, though.
- Nobody Poops: Averted, as at least one character takes a leak in a corner.
- Psycho Party Member: Quentin.
- Razor Floss: Razor wire.
- The Rainman: Kazan.
- Sir Swearsalot: Quentin. While the amount of profanity in the movie as a whole isn't particularly remarkable, the fact that about 90% of comes out of his mouth certainly is.
Quentin: You fucking fuck!
- Sarcastic Devotee: Worth.
- Scary Black Man: Quentin. While being moderately black, he is very scary.
- Shout-Out: Quentin believes that the Cube is just some rich weirdo's funhouse, like Scaramanga's.
- As Worth is explaining to the group that the Cube isn't part of some evil scheme or government conspiracy, he tells them "Big Brother isn't watching you."
- Spikes of Doom
- Take My Hand: Subverted. As Holloway is lowered into the unthinkable abyss outside the cube by the other characters, using a rope made of their clothes, the structure shakes and everyone drops the rope. She begins to fall and Quentin is the only one who quickly manages to grab the slipping rope, almost getting pulled down himself. He then manages to pull back all of the rope and grab Holloway's hand, but just as she lets out a sigh of relief his smile turns to a psychopatic stare and he drops her.
- The Un-Reveal: The movie ends just as the lone survivor has found the exit and manages to escape. To twist the knife further, he's The Rainman, and so severely mentally disabled that he would be unable to tell anyone what he discovered. It Gets Worse when you realize that according to Cube Zero, Kazan started the incident as one of the Cube operators, meaning he's known from the first second just how fucked up the monstrosity was.
- The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Rennes
- Unusual Euphemism: Averted, as most characters will drop F-bombs when adequately frustrated, but as for Holloway...
Holloway: Cats! Holy, holy cats!
- Writers Cannot Do Math: If a certain property of numbers is a key plot point, then make sure those numbers are right!!
- Also in that Leaven takes several seconds to figure out if the first two numbers she examines are prime, despite one ending in five and one being an even number, which ought to be the first thing she checks (as they mean the number is divisible by five and two, respectively).
- Leaven gives up when she discovers that powers of a prime can indicate trapped rooms, declaring the problem "astronomical" (i.e. incalculable by a limited human mind), when in fact all powers of primes less than 1000 would be easy to tabulate. Kazan takes on the task, gleefully echoing "Astronomical!".
- Also, she "can't even start" factoring 567. The digits add to a multiple of nine, so there is an easy starting point of dividing by nine.
Cube 2: Hypercube
- Action Girl: Although not as pronounced in the beginning, when the situation requires it, Kate is remarkably strong and skilled at fighting (as demonstrated by the numerous times she managed to beat Simon's ass whenever he tried to restrain her or fight her). Of course, it's later revealed in the Twist Ending that Kate was actually a hired professional from Izon whose mission was to retrieve Alex's necklace.
- Artistic License - Mathematics: Despite being continually referred to as such, a hypercube is not an incomprehensible megastructure with over sixty million cubical rooms, instantaneously moving rooms, time travel, and intersecting parallel universes. It is simply a four-dimensional geometric concept, also known as a tesseract.
- Alien Geometries: A rare portrayal in visual media.
- Arc Number: 60659.
- Ascetic Aesthetic: In constrast to the first Cube, this cube has a user-friendly look, with sleek white surfaces and touch-to-open panels.
- The Bad Guy Wins: The overseers of the Hypercube kill everyone they set out to get rid of by throwing them into the highly dangerous environment, and retrieve Alex Trusk's device. And they kill Kate, their own employee, probably because she knew too much or because it was a suicide mission from the start.
- Blind Seer: The blind character Sasha can sense the environment's threats coming long before any of the others.
- Of course, that could be due to her actually helping to design the cube, and so she knows vaguely what kind of threats there are. She could've just been acting as though it were supernatural feelings that caused her to "sense" it, instead of letting people know who she was and why she knows the dangers.
- Creepy Souvenir: The guy in I Am a Humanitarian (below) collects the watches and ID tags of people he's eaten.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Julia, who is barefoot for nearly all the movie. Justified, as wearing dress sandals in her situation is not practical.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: The supposed superhacker and mastermind Alex Trusk turns out to be... a blind girl?
- Driven to Suicide: Subverted and played straight with Colonel Maguire. The first time around he's saved in time by the group, but the second time he voluntarily chains himself to a wall so he can be killed by one of the traps, before swallowing the key.
- Evil All Along: Kate Filmore, who was sent in by her superiors to retrieve Alex Trusk's information storage device.
- Genre Shift: The first movie was at least somewhat grounded in reality, with the cube structure obviously futuristic, but still employing normal and believable machinery. The second replaces this with some sort of physically impossible mega-structure consisting of millions of rooms that freely employs Time Travel, intersecting parallel universes, and many more "hardcore sci-fi" contraptions.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Kate does this to Jerry when he starts to ramble too much.
- I'm a Humanitarian: One character solves his food supply problem by systematically hunting down, killing, and eating multiple iterations of a scientist who had worked on the Hypercube and was subsequently trapped inside with the others. Also on his lunch-list is a female researcher who he had initially been sent inside to find. His arms and neck are lined with the two characters' watches and ID tags, respectively, by his final scene, as a morbid sort of trophy collection. Quite a Fridge Horror moment, as he's also gone gray at the temples. Just how long, subjectively, had he been eating those people (and drinking their blood, since the Cube has no water sources) to survive? Due to all the constant stress he had to endure and the small variety of nutritional sources available to him (basically protein and not much else) it's probably as little as a couple of weeks or months, but it could have been years.
- Informed Attractiveness: Julia is treated by the other characters (and herself) as a bombshell, while she's really no more attractive than any of them, or for that matter the average person.
- Interrupted Suicide: Colonel Maguire tries to kill himself by hanging himself with his own belt, but is saved when the others run into him and get him down. He succeeds in killing himself through other means not much later.
- Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: It will probably come off as this. In reality, a "hypercube" is the informal name of a tesseract, a spatially four-dimensional cube (which actually has nothing in common with the complex megastructure shown in this film, which is nevertheless called a hypercube).
- Oh Crap: Colonel Maguire chains himself to a wall so he can be killed by one of the traps, a transparent, moving cube wall that ages all the matter in the room by decades if not hundreds of years. Seeing the effect it has on his briefcase leads him to remark "this is gonna hurt".
- This Is Reality: "This isn't a game, Kate. There is no happy ending."
- Unreliable Narrator: Pretty much every character during the "let's go around the table and introduce ourselves" scene.
- Zero-G Spot: Two characters, feeling that their deaths are inevitable, have sex in the center of one of the cube rooms that has zero gravity (and possibly accelerated time) until they apparently die of dehydration and eventually desiccate.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Jax and the other villains win. Wynn is lobotomized and thrown back in the cube, and Rains is on the run until she'll be recaptured. Everybody else dies.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Jax is very effective at his work, but has a highly unusual personality.
- Episode Zero the Beginning
- Food Pills: The only foodstuf the technicians seem to be provided with.
- Fate Worse Than Death: By the end, staying in or around the cube becomes this to Wynn. He actually tries to get himself executed by making it clear that he chooses death over the cube, but he doesn't get a choice in the matter - he already waived this right a long time ago, which he simply doesn't remember. He's lobotomized and thrown back in.
- Good with Numbers: Wynn. At the end, he is lobotomized and put in the cube, suggesting that Kazan was once a Cube Technician as well.
- I'm Melting: The unlucky bastard in the opening. He enters a room, and is sprayed with a substance which he thinks is water, since it is odorless and doesn't do any immediate harm. It takes a minute before his body tissues suddenly begin to dissolve into a bloody pile of bone and liquified guts.
- Large Ham: The villains, particularely Jax.
- POV Prequel: Kazan from the first film.
- Red Right Hand: Jax has a cybernetic implant fitted where his right eye used to be. It's never shown or explained what abilities it gives him; it's only ever used to identify him as a villain.
- Tomato in the Mirror: After Wynn is captured at the end, Jax reveals that Wynn is NOT an employee overseeing the cube. He's just as much a lab rat as the Cube residents, as another layer of the Cube experiment to "observe the observers". So were his colleagues. He can't even choose execution over staying in the cube, as he already waived this right long ago... he simply doesn't remember because the real operators removed this information from his mind.
- The Virus: Another strain of necrotizing faciitis is injected in to a character, who, in her death throes, claws at another character, which infects him with the same condition.
- Where It All Began
- Your Head Asplode: Meyerhold