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The 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies

31. Cube (1997)

Director: Vincenzo Natali
Stars: David Hewlett, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, Andrew Miller, Maurice Dean Wint

Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali's Cube has a truly great Twilight Zone-esque premise: Six strangers, all dressed in prison jumpsuits, wake up in a massive cube split up into dozens of interconnected rooms, all booby-trapped. In true Rod Serling fashion, the characters try to work together but ultimately become more dangerous than any of the setting's deadly interior surprises. Granted, they also grow more annoying by the scene, but Natali's singular vision is thematically and aesthetically striking enough to forgive Cube's whiny, bitchy protagonists.

Shot on a tiny budget, Cube is a textbook example of imagination and skill trumping limited resources. Natali uses tight close-ups and constricted frames to convey suffocating claustrophobia, and, most effectively, an overwhelming feeling that the characters have no chance in hell of escaping. Once that realization sets in, Cube takes on a voyeuristic mood, transpiring as a series of suspense bits powered by the thought of, "Who's going to die next?"

Is that a bit macabre to say? Absolutely, but we've got a feeling that Natali himself would mirror the sentiment; why else would he create such loathsome characters if not to watch them suffer?

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