The Cave (2005) / Horror-Sci Fi

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and language
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnut, Lena Headey, Piper Perabo, Eddie Cibrian, Rick Ravanello, Marcel Iures, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Daniel Dae Kim
Director: Bruce Hunt
Screenplay: Michael Steinberg, Tegan West

Review published August 28, 2005

Didn't I see this movie when it was called The Descent?  Hmm, maybe it was called Pitch Black?  No, no -- it was called Aliens!  No, wait...

Yes, that's right, The Cave is yet another derivative movie that becomes so boring by its generic nature, the only way one can stay entertained is to figure out what movie that each plot element rips off.  If I were to have had a pen and paper handy, I probably would have had a sizeable list going, although that may have necessitated watching the movie twice, because I would have spent more time writing than actually viewing what's onscreen.  If there's anything less appealing to me than watching The Cave once, it's having to watch it ever again.

Here we have yet another crew of scientists and explorers going into areas unknown, this time, a vast subterranean cave system underneath the Carpathian mountains that appears to have been sealed up for centuries, and has gone mostly unexplored.  Three decades ago, a cave-in occurred leaving several explorers trapped and presumed dead.  Fast-forward to the present, a newer, more sophisticated group of explorers make the attempt, and it doesn't take long before they realize they aren't alone down there.  There is a self-supporting ecosystem that is particular to this cave unlike anything ever seen before -- parasites and monstrously eerie "demons" with sharp teeth.   They can't go back the way they came in, so the crew must figure out a way out without getting slaughtered by the strange creatures that lurk within.

First-time director Brian Hunt cut his teeth as a unit director for Dark City and The Matrix films, and if there's anything that he does show here, it's that he knows how to put together an action sequence.  It's a heavily edited and briskly plotted piece that progresses constantly forward without too much muss or fuss in needless conversations and unnecessary explanations.  With good characterizations, perhaps Hunt has the stuff to make this one succeed.

Alas, good characterizations seem to have been the last thing on the agenda of the filmmakers here, as we have the same cookie-cutter crew stuck in the same perilous situations.  The casting is the obvious tip-off, as every scientist and explorer in the film is either a hunk or a babe worthy of donning a fashion magazine cover.  I'm not going to say that scientists can't be attractive, as I'm sure that there are many examples, but any group of people that have spent this much time on their outward appearance would probably have had little time to do actual studying -- never mind the fact that these are the elite of the elite in their chosen professions.

I suppose one should never really expect a great movie out of a film that has Cole Hauser (Paparazzi, 2 Fast 2 Furious) and Morris Chestnut (Ladder 49, Anacondas) as the two biggest box-office attractions, which leads me to wonder why they didn't just opt for more convincing actors altogether.  The entire production smacks of "Sci-Fi Channel World Premiere", except that the folks at Columbia probably spent too much money on the film to not try for a theatrical release. 

To be honest, for standard horror-science fiction fare, it isn't half-bad for a while, but once the cave-dwelling creatures start to emerge, the movie begins a rapid descent into unappealing, mechanical action-horror clichés, taking what might have been a passable vehicle for genre junkies and turning it into the b-movie schlock.  In one final insult to the audience, the ending of the film, which had the chance of redeeming the last half hour of mindless action with a return back to the intelligent premise, sucker-punches us with one final twist that gives us, for the first time, a reason to be scared -- the notion of a sequel.

Qwipster's rating:

©2005 Vince Leo