This question is about the Cube Prison as seen in the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods. My question is not about the film or its lore, but how the cube prison can be constructed. Specifically, how could such cubes connect and move?

For the purposes of this question, we can rely on what is seen in this YouTube video. To avoid confusion, we need some assumptions and requirements:


  • Containing the creatures is not an issue - any monsters or other-worldly creatures can be contained through an invisible force field, something injected into the cubes, or yada-yada... I don't care. We're not worried about the strength of the cubes, just their function.
  • The space is isolated from any external issues (in the movie this takes place underground, where we can presume factors like humidity and temperature are controlled).
  • Material costs, labor, energy usage, or other related requirements are moot (this facility is needed to prevent the destruction of humanity, so an "at any cost" attitude is taken). We can assume whatever government(s) or organization(s) building and maintaining this facility have an "at any cost" attitude and will use any and all funding or resources available.
  • No magic, and no other-worldly help. This facility is constructed, controlled, and maintained by humans with our current technology.
  • Construction may take time and be tedious. Again, we can throw a lot of people, time, and resources at it.


Most of the prison can be seen starting at 2:23 in the video, for a brief 15 seconds. From this we can gather:

  • Each cube has at least two visible/see-through walls
  • Some - but not necessarily all - cubes can move both horizontally and vertically.
  • Some - but not necessarily all - cubes can rotate or pivot.
  • Cubes are identical in size - but not necessarily in feature or function.
  • There will obviously be some type of structure, but we cannot see any visible bars, pulleys, in the main area of structure. Any such bars, pulleys, motors, etc are either on the exterior, or can exist in the floor/ceiling of the cubes themselves.

The Question

Can such a system be constructed? If so, how might the cubes move, connect, and interact?

  • $\begingroup$ Hard-science and reality check are mutually exclusive. Moreover, which kind of scientific research you expect to find on a fictional building? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jun 20, 2019 at 17:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch In what way are they mutually exclusive? "Here's an idea. With hard science, can you validate this idea?" In fact, the description on "Reality Check" mentions "Hard Science" and suggests that they might go together. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Jun 20, 2019 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren, from hard science tag description: Contrast with: science-based and reality-check tags. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jun 20, 2019 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ To avoid confusion, I went ahead and removed the hard-science tag. I am hoping to get answers that are more precise / detailed than "meh, use magnets", but I'm not sure how to tag that. $\endgroup$
    – cegfault
    Jun 20, 2019 at 17:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch So Reality-Check implies the combination, and Hard-Science implies the separation. This sounds like a meta issue. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Jun 20, 2019 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Like M-Blocks.

In this clip you will see them performing extraordinary maneuvers twisting, jumping and walking. This part 45 seconds in shows them interacting nicely with each-other.

They use magnets to stick together, and computer controlled inertial flywheels sped up and slowed down to produce torque on the body of the cube.

Because of the constraints of having transparent sides (and a passenger), the control mechanisms would need to be in the edges and vertices of the cubes. It wouldn't be a very smooth ride though. Thus I suggest the addition of linear motors on the corners of the cubes to "drag" them along each-other.

Power would be supplied to the stack using cascaded inductive charging from the floor below, the charge passing upwards block by block.


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