Cube Zero Ernie Barbarash

Cube ZeroErnie Barbarash
After the dreadful Cube 2: Hypercube, a sequel to the cult favourite Cube, the thought of a prequel dragging the brilliant and original science fiction film through the mud again makes the stomach turn. The good news is that Cube Zero isn't nearly as awful as Hypercube, but it's still not nearly as good as the original that first placed a group of people in a gigantic puzzle that killed them off one by one. The main thing that makes this prequel somewhat successful is that it returns to the basics. Rather than going all out with special effects and making people have gravity-defying sex, Cube Zero returns to the Goonies-style booby traps that made the first film so clever. Still, how do you make yet another film about people trapped in a mysterious cube without repeating yourself? Well, this time most of it doesn't even take place in the cube but outside within the inner workings of the structure. We actually get a glimpse of what the cube is all about as we witness two button pushers deploy the traps and watch the people trapped inside like guinea pigs. There's some big ramble about whether or not a prisoner believes in God when he makes it to the outer edge of the cube and is roasted alive for saying "no." Then there's all this other business of some stereotypical higher power that makes an appearance with two of his yes men on either side. It all gets quite boring and silly after awhile and you want more of the cube, even though the victims basically re-enact the first film, complete with the use of their boots as decoys. Mind you, once you slip into that frame of mind you might as well pop in the original and watch Leaven and friends chew on their buttons. This film doesn't answer any questions, even though it tries to get all deep and throw some shock in our direction, but what made the original so good was that you never did realise why all these people woke up in a death trap. That air of mystery is what made Cube such an interesting challenge, so why ruin that with another writer's interpretation? The DVD comes with a "behind the scenes" look at the film where director Ernie Barbarash more or less admits that Hypercube was a piece of shit and he wanted to write something to make up for it. We learn that Cube Zero had a very small budget, which is a blessing, as it forced the producers to rely on the techniques the original used. There's also this ridiculous music video by some mystery metal band that you can't help but laugh at, as the members find themselves trapped in the cube and decide that rocking out is the best solution. Plus: commentary with Barbarash, storyboard comparisons and conceptual art. (Lions Gate)