In my years writing about film I've become an ad hoc defender of lower budgeted, straight-to-video titles mainly because I think they often fail to get a fair shake. I think a lot of people assume that films like Cube 2: Hypercube are just slapped together to make a buck - and that may very well be the case most of the time, but their mercenary parentage doesn't preclude them from having strong creative intentions. So over the weekend I reached out to Cube 2 screenwriter Sean Hood asking if he would humor me by answering a few questions. He did more than humor me.
See, Hood not only answered my questions, but he provided me with his original (and largely abandoned) script for Cube 2 as well as an armful of his personal production illustrations intended to convey some of the concepts his script contained. Many of these elements either never made it into the Sekula's film or were visualized differently (I'm pretty bummed his depiction of a "Cubist Sex Scene" didn't make it in), but fortunately for us we can now get a glimpse of the film that never was. I've assembled all the concept art into the below gallery, you can find Hood's original draft of the script right here.
Before we get to the brief Q&A, I would like to talk a bit about the film that did end up getting made. It's certainly not as ambitious as Hood's script, but I still think it's a perfectly serviceable story. For me, it's biggest failing is staying too close to the beats of the first film. Much of it feels like a game of comparable substitution and slight upgrades (instead of a mentally challenged guy, we have a blind girl; instead of physical traps that cause dismemberment, we have CGI ones that do), but that's not too much of a problem for me considering I am such a sucker for movies that are set in one location. If you're looking for radical divergence from the first film, however, you may have better luck with the script instead.
Then there's the acting, which is largely hit and miss. I think Kari Matchett does a great job as Kate, as does Neil Crone as the nerdy engineer Jerry, but everyone else plays it all a little too broad. It alsot kind of freaks me out how much Matthew Ferguson (who plays Max) looks like my personal nemesis, Film School Reject writer Rob Hunter. But I digress...
And finally we have the ending. On the one hand, I don't think it's the swift kick to the face that the film thinks it is; on the other, it's another welcome mystery that also sort of ties into the first film. If we think of the physical build of Natali's cube as a prototype, Izon's nanotech/mental cube would be the next breakthrough iteration of the technology.
What do you think though? Do you even like Cube 2: Hypercube? Is it a worthy sequel? Strengths? Weaknesses? And, for the really dedicated who take the time to read it, do you think Hood's script would have made a more interesting film?
Sci-Fi Squad: Were you a fan of Vincenzo Natali's Cube?
Sean Hood: Yes. I admired how he was able to use a single set and create a sense of a gigantic space. I also admired the mysterious and existential predicament that characters find themselves in.
SFS: How did you come to the project?
Hood: I was hired by Tri-Mark to do the sequel. At that time they were planning a larger budget, theatrically released project. When Lionsgate bought Tri-Mark, the project was given to different executives and changed to a low-budget straight-to-video project. My script was far to expensive for them to shoot, so the producer [Ernie Barbarash] rewrote it himself.
SFS: How much of your original script would you say ended up in the final film?
Hood: Virtually every word of my script was tossed. Some of the basic characterizations were kept... along with the concept of the cube as a 4-D hypercube.
SFS: What are some of your elements that are missing?
Hood: I've attached my original script with some of my production illustrations to give you an idea. (I'll probably have to send more than one email...)
Some of my concepts included:
1. A 2-D room based on flatland.
2. Fragmented space and "cubist" rooms.
3. Time acceleration.
4. Escher-like stairways and infinite space.
5. Parallels to music.
6. People "mirror reversed."
And so on...
Also, the look that I gave the film was metallic, rusty and industrial... which ended up being used for the third movie Cube Zero.
SFS: Do you like the final project?
Hood: I thought the film did a fine job with very limited resources. I had a number of disagreements with the direction they took, but I do not begrudge them for making a different movie.
SFS: What projects are you working on next?
Hood: I just finished work on Conan for Lionsgate. The producers of Conan plan to produce my original script for Hercules next. I'm currently working on two projects, one for Gold Circle Films, and another for Nu Image, both are sequels in well known franchises (One Horror, One Action), and I'm hoping that there are announcements in the trades about them soon.