Cube 2: Hypercube is essentially a higher-budget, better-scripted version of the original, only not quite as satisfying. There isn't the same thrill of discovery, and crucially, when people die, they don't stay dead. You see, the hypercube environment features the fourth dimension of time, which adds further pretzels to the logic of a multi-roomed maze from which there appears no escape. But as the group of trapped strangers comes across still-living versions of their dead companions, or already-dead versions of their living selves, it lowers the stakes, removing Cube 2 from the reliable realm of horror frame story in which the characters are steadily picked off. While this has its existential advantages, and allows limitless possibilities, it loses something in the scare department. Those limitless possibilities also mean the hypercube rarely adheres to any specific rules -- the ways it attacks its prey can seem like random screenwriter whims more than necessary outcomes of the established conditions. Director Andrzej Sekula conjures a crisp look that's an advantage over the original -- which did terrific things on a small budget, just not quite this fancy. Having twice served as cinematographer for Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), Sekula makes strides beyond a visual stylist in his second directing effort, getting good performances from the cast, notably Geraint Wyn Davies as an increasingly unhinged private eye. However, it's the dialogue that's the big nontechnical jump over Cube, as Lauren McLaughlin and Ernie Barbarash have written the perfect brand of sarcastic retorts and befuddled questions for their characters. (And what a smart idea to include a senile character who's always forgetting her predicament.) The complete package is a better thriller or sci-fi movie than horror, but well worth checking out either way.