Directed by Bruce Hunt
Lakeshore Entertainment/City Productions/Cineblue
Trying to decide how to introduce this silly wannabe-blockbuster action thriller, I realized I should just state the facts: I decided to watch The Cave precisely because I knew what I could expect to get from the experience. See, I was in the mood for a fair-to-middling production with a “Hollywood” feel, by which I mean an affair so divorced from any actual identifiable reality that its viewer can just comfortably settle in with the stock setup and characters, and soak up the stupid. Striving for mediocrity, The Cave did its job admirably – perhaps too much so, as it barely recovered production costs after factoring in global revenues.
Now, when I try to describe what I had been seeking, let me allow Wikipedia to contribute its description of the cast of characters: “thrill seeking professional cave explorers who run a world famous scuba diving team” (sic). Set in Romania, under an ancient church, the Knights Templar … nah, never mind that, the script barely bothers anyway. Concentrate instead on the mysterious “parasite” that transforms its host into some sorta Species. Because ultimately what this flick brought to mind was the 1995 movie with that as its title.
Why Did I Watch This Movie?
I wasn’t in the mood for Halloween Ends.
Should You Watch This Movie?
Much as I once compared a clumsy example of an ’80s teen-kill picture to comfort food, I’d halfheartedly endorse this vehicle of dunderhead escapism … if it were, say, as good as The Descent.
HIghlight and Low Point
I found the creatures inhabiting THE cave to be prosaic, at least once they were fully visible. I would also quibble with the biological processes allegedly on display, but I’d like to retain a shred of dignity.
Rating From Outer Space: c−
Written and Directed by JT Petty
Lionsgate/Blue Star Entertainment
It’s probably a fairly damning indictment of a horror picture – or any similar kind of picture, actually – if it revolves around some horrible creatures doing horrible things and the worst problem the production has is the appearance of those very same creatures. Now, to be fair, I suppose the “burrowers” here are not actually all that bad; they’re effectively creepy and gross, and only occasionally betray their CGI animation. They don’t necessarily stretch the bounds of credulity too terribly, either. So what the hell is my problem?
A slow-building, personality-driven nature horror, with all kinds of subtle societal commentaries, this Western set in the Dakota Territories during the time of the “Indian Wars” doesn’t overwhelm its viewer with visceral assaults, preferring to derive its impact from psychological discomfort. All right, fine, that’s laying it on a bit thick, but there’s a villain here that isn’t the insectile hunters, whose method of preparing their dinner is damned unsettling in its own right.
Why Did I Watch This Movie?
I had no idea this flick existed until only recently, as it was amongst those discussed in 100 American Horror Films (published, obviously, by the British Film Institute).
Should You Watch This Movie?
If, like me, you’re a sucker for tracking down, once you’ve finally heard of them, underpublicized films described as being of an originalist bent … sure.
Highlight and Low Point
As hinted above, upon further reflection I can accept the titular beasties well enough. While actually watching the proceedings, however, I hated them. (Admittedly, I tend to be hypercritical of modern movie monsters.) And I will employ my usual shtick to aver that the truly disheartening REAL HORROR here is only to be discovered at the bitter end.
Rating From OUter Space: B
DIRECTED BY NEIL MARSHALL
A harrowing exercise in psychological terror, coupled with an in-depth examination of the fight-or-flight response, this British spelunking picture convinced me that I lack a certain sense of adventure, that I am not equipped with derring-do. (I frequently used to be reckless or foolhardy, but those are not equivalent.) Oftentimes claustrophobia-inducing, it at other times reminded me of 2014’s The Pyramid, which is unfortunate, but as it predated that flop by almost a decade, the blame lies with my tardiness. Similarly, I couldn’t help but relate this picture – featuring a group of friends with some relationship issues being picked off one by one – to others with like themes that I’ve watched of late. To be completely straightforward, this flick lacks somewhat for credibility, but it’s executed so well it’s not an issue. Dubious though I was when the cavers first encountered the resident humanoid danger, the troglodytes’ existence and demeanor felt circumstantially logical. (Indeed, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine how ravenous cave-dwelling mutants might not provoke some disbelief.) Seeing it with its original ending also helped, I think, ambiguous though it remained.
WHY DID I WATCH THIS MOVIE?
Having intended to have seen this movie long ago, it seemed like a good idea to finally do so, once I again remembered I still hadn’t, if you follow.
SHOULD YOU WATCH THIS MOVIE?
If you, like me, have yet managed not to experience it, sure, though I wonder if, like me, you will then perceive it through a somewhat tarnished prism.
HIGHLIGHT AND LOW POINT
Some of the gruesome touches were of course welcome, my favorite being the veritable, uh, lake of blood. This film has a sequel, to my dismay – but not to my surprise. We wouldn’t expect the film industry to leave well enough alone, after all.
RATING FROM OUTER SPACE: B+