Horror and the Cube Films: An unlikely medium for the negotiation of Nationalist-Cultural ideologies


Cube Films
Repressive Tolerance
Cultural Identity

How to Cite

Christopher, D. “Horror and the Cube Films: An Unlikely Medium for the Negotiation of Nationalist-Cultural Ideologies”. Mutual Images Journal, no. 11, Dec. 2023, pp. 139-70, doi:10.32926/2023.11.8.


Over the past several decades, scholarship has come to recognise the unexpected significance of horror cinema ventures as both culturally and politically relevant. One of Canada’s greatest horror film successes was Vincenzo Natali’s 1997 psychological thriller Cube that metaphorically explores the suffocating nature of vocational social relations under the conditions of a patriarchal military-industrial capitalism. So innovative was its premise that US interests quickly acquired the rights to produce and distribute Cube 2: Hypercube (2002) and Cube Zero (2004), but they were just as quick to reformulate the most subversive critique of the original film. Two decades later, in 2021, Japanese producers released a remake of the original film (which was so popular there), although it also re-coded the thematic critique, just as the American sequels had done. With this group of films across three national production traditions arises an opportunity to “detect shifts in the ideological constellation”, as Slavoj Žižek has argued, by “compar[ing] consecutive remakes of the same story” (2011, p. 61). Following primarily Herbert Marcuse’s understanding of political repressive tolerance, this article demonstrates the way in which constructions of cultural identity are negotiated across national traditions in the age of globalisation. Cube and its follow-ups demonstrate the nationalist-inflected limits of critical expression in the way that each subsequent film attempts to re-focus and re-code the horrors of the narrative machine in order to assert their own nationalist sensibilities threatened by the cultural levelling effect of globalisation in an age of transnational cinema distribution.

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Copyright (c) 2024 David Christopher