The Japanese remake of Vincenzo Natalithe sci-fi cult classic cubedirected by Yasuhiko Shimizu (“Pension: Love Is Pink”), is now airing on the Bloody Disgusting SCREAMBOX.
Vincenzo Natali’s brutal sci-fi horror classic was so successful it spawned Cube²: Hypercube (2002) and Cube Zero (2004). Christmas (Splice, in the tall grassNBC’s “Hannibal”) remained creative advisor for the Japanese remake, with Koji Tokuo write the adapted scenario.
Bloody Disgusting spoke with Natali for the release of the remake on SCREAMBOX. The filmmaker revealed how he influenced the remake, including its director Yasuhiko Shimizu, and teased the trap he devised in the reimagining. The filmmaker reflects on his own film in the process.
Natali tells us how he got involved in the remake and why he seduced him.
“I personally knew the producers who did it, who are Japanese, who I really like, and who I wanted to support,” he shares. “And then I got excited about the idea of a Japanese remake, much more than an American remake, which was also, I guess, circling around somebody’s development slate for a The American, I’ve always been afraid that he will round off the edges, and it will just not be the same thing anymore.
“But I felt that with a Japanese guy it was going to go through that cultural filter, and even if they tried to make it the same, it would never be the same again. Combined with the fact that I think cube has a bit of Japanese in its DNA, I was even aware of that while we were doing it. So I also felt that they would understand and appreciate it for all the right reasons.“
Asked about the Japanese DNA of the original film, Natali specifies: “When we were shooting cubewe would joke that different cubes have different themes. There was a cube that I called the Ozu cube because I shot it like a (Yasujirō) Ozu movie with everyone sitting on the floor. I mean, I’ve always looked up to Akira Kurosawa, of course. There’s still something there because it’s so archetypal. These films, Kurosawa’s films in particular, are totally timeless because they feel like they deal with themes that will never die. They are shot in such a dynamic yet classic way; they don’t age at all.
“I don’t know how aware I was of that, but I think I understood when I was doing cube it’s a similar kind of thing. As I said, it exists outside of time. I mean if I had to go back I would remove more cultural references because I think that’s part of its strength, it’s almost a myth, except it’s in the context of science fiction .
Once the Japanese remake of cube was officially launched, Natali gave the filmmakers the creative freedom to make it their own.
He explains: “I tried to stay away as much as possible, to be honest. I have to admit that I played a big role in choosing the director, Yasuhiko Shimuzu-san, who I really liked. He had made a very cool movie called Vice which I recommend to anyone who can get their hands on it. He completely did what I thought he would do. He is a very gifted filmmaker, a very deep thinker, a very aesthetic and poetic filmmaker. I commented a bit on the script, but I wanted the film to be its own film.
“I like remakes that are different from the originals. I don’t want to see the same thing, just with the sheen of the latest digital effects. I want to see something that’s fundamentally in its DNA morph into something else that is more contemporary and specific to this moment, which they did, and very specific to Japan and the generation gap that’s exploding in this country right now. That seems to me what this movie is really about, which has nothing to do with our first film.
Did he give advice to the filmmakers of the remake?
“I think if I gave Shimuzu-san any advice it was, ‘Make sure you focus on the humans,'” Natali replies. “I don’t know, maybe I’m making this memory up, but I think I said that. I mean, one of the inspirations for me to cube was the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rescue boatbecause you couldn’t be in a more confined space. Yet he made it cinematic and then he made it engaging because the characters, I think it’s written by John Steinbeck, the characters are intensely engaging and they transform. They seem like one thing at the start of the movie, and then they turn out to be something very different as the movie progresses. I think that’s what you’re largely forced to do when you’re in this confined environment with a limited number of characters. The Japanese remake took that lesson to heart and made it an extremely humanistic story, and probably a lot more compassionate than my movie, which is somewhat surprising but charming.
Natali continues, “I don’t remember if I said that to Shimuzu-san, but I think I said, ‘Don’t enter the Cube, don’t do it. It’s a horrible place to shoot a movie. I don’t know if I really said that out loud, but no, I wanted to support them and do it while I was away. The only specific thing I did that was fun and funny was I designed one of the traps; but i was more of a cheerleader, really.”
As for which trap, Natali offers a simple match: “The Last”.
If you’ve seen it, you know it’s a creative show. If it’s not the case ? The brand new remake of cube is now available to stream only on SCREAMBOX.