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March 09, 2006

The Cave

Disaster movies and horror movies are very similar. You get a cast of characters at the beginning, and you get the fun of trying to guess which ones will live, and which will die a horrible death. The only real difference with the horror film is that it's not some natural disaster, there is usually a boogieman somewhere waiting to pounce.

The premise this film starts with a huge cave system being discovered in a Romanian forest. It's mostly flooded, and so a team of crack divers are called in to explore it. This is a place where no one has ever been before they think; except we know from the opening of the film that a group of soldiers were trapped in the cave 30 years previously and never escaped.

*** Spoilers ***

So far so good. Obviously, there is at least one monster unknown to man lurking in there. It will pick them off one by one, until there is a final showdown, leaving a select few survivors.

But this team of expert divers are idiots. The first thing they do is send one man in by himself 2.5 miles into the cave. When they lose communication with him, they aren't alarmed, they just all follow him in anyway. Then they manage to blow up some of their equipment, causing a rock fall that traps them all.

I could forgive this, it moves the plot to where they need it to be after all. But what I cannot forgive is the way the characters react to the bizarre situation they've found themselves in. One minute they are being attacked by creatures under the water - the next they are calmly going right back into that water without a care. They readily accept the scientist's view that this is an uncontaminated ecosystem that has produced new lifeforms that want to eat people, but they completely fail to protect each other properly. I think the editors must have spliced some of the scenes together in the wrong order too, or left out some important ones, as it gets very confusing indeed. There are icy passages, and right next to them hot caves filled with burning methane. All the men look the same with their short black hair and black T-shirts, and as they are in the dark most of the time, or wearing masks, this can be a bit of a problem. And sometimes you think someone has been taken by a monster, but then they're right back with the group. It's all very confusing.

To make a successful horror film, you have to get the pace right. You have to care about your characters, understand their uncertainty and empathise with their mounting fear. You need the to know that they have based their motives on the information they have to hand, and therefore their actions make sense. None of this was done in "The Cave". Sometimes they are diving into deep water, the next they are climbing rock faces. I'm sure this could easily have been explained, but it never is.

To it's credit, it has some nice underwater photography. The acting is competent, and the story actually holds together internally. The only thing that scares me really about it though is the obvious setup at the end for a sequel!

Posted by se71 at March 9, 2006 11:10 AM

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