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The Cave
Reviewed by Gary Mitchel, © 2005

Format: Movie
By:   Bruce Hunt (director)
Genre:   Action-Horror
Released:   August 26, 2005
Review Date:   September 01, 2005
Audience Rating:   Rated PG-13
RevSF Rating:   4/10 (What Is This?)

“Respect the Cave; it’s killed one person already.” — Top

Ah, August, the tail end of summer. Things are winding down, kids are getting ready to head back to school, and the studios dump the last of their big summer releases. Usually the ones they’re worried that aren’t quite good enough to make it in the heady start of July, but aren’t bad enough to be direct to DVD. The studios are hoping that somehow the flick will pick up a cult audience (like Pitch Black), or that we’re seen all the other major releases and will go see anything, as long as it’s new. Thus Sony presents The Cave.

So here’s the skinny. In Romania, under the Carpathian Mountains (which I can never help saying without a cheesy Bela Lugosi accent), is this long, deep hole in the ground. A cave, as it were, with a river running through it. And not one that Brad Pitt would go fish in, either.

Anyway, the movie opens in the 1970s, when a group of treasure hunters find and break into the cave of the title. They have to break in as the cave was sealed off in the Middle Ages by a church being built over it. The locals did this after a group of Knights Templar got themselves slaughtered by “demons” living in the caves. We see enough to know this new team going to be meat when the movie jumps to modern day, where a group of archeologists examining the church find the cave and river system. Deciding they need expert help, they call in our heroes, an ace team of cave divers lead by brothers Jack (Cole “Pitch Black” Hauser) and Tyler (Eddie “Third Watch” Cibrian).

Now, the cave divers are our standard action/horror archetypes, a la Aliens. Which means the writers didn’t even try to come up with anyone original. There’s the freaking-out Hicks guy, the strong, silent second in command, the competent leader, and the cocky young hot-shot. Then there’s the self-confident adventurous woman, the older doctor and his young lady assistant whose entire purpose it to be both love interest and exposition spouter. You will note that I don’t put actor or character names with these roles. I would do this if any of them were memorable enough that I could identify them beyond their archetype.

Just like every other “team in a bad place” movie made, going all the way back to the 1951 The Thing From Another World, once the boogums appear this seasoned team of experts, who have worked together so long to be like family, start bickering and distrusting each other to the point were they’re as much a danger to themselves as the monsters are. So there’s that stress, along with the monsters doing the “10 Little Indians” thing to them.

The Cave is bland. It’s incredibly generic, yet another “experts in danger from monsters” flick, and it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It doesn’t help that I keep confusing Hauser with both Josh Lucas and Matthew McConaughey. Generic actor as generic hero in generic movie. To put it in culinary terms, this flick is barely-seasoned tofu.

Now I say barely seasoned because there is one, small, tiny idea that is pretty interesting, but it’s not enough to save the flick. It will be very interesting to readers of this site that are gamers (which I lay good odds are a nice chunk of you), especially ones that play Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green, as the monsters share a characteristic with Lovecraft’s ghouls, and not the “eating the dead” one. The Cave has the makings of a great game adventure. But as a movie, you can wait for the video.

What really bites, so to speak, is that The Cave had the raw potential to scare the pants off viewers. The movie is set in the dark (which I have confessed my fear of before on this site) and partly underwater (another fear of mine, thanks dad for taking me to see Jaws when I was five.) The team has no weapons and faces cool-looking monsters, and the flick could have been an intense thrill ride. Instead, they have their one good idea and just don’t do anything new with it.

I didn’t hate The Cave; I wasn’t involved with it enough to work up to that level of emotion. My feelings can be summed up with one word: meh.

So one time RevolutionSF contributor Gary Mitchel had a dream about a slimy monster chasing him deeper and deeper into a dank black cave. Can he get some help interpreting that?

 
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