Coming out the same year as the excellent cave-related horror, The Descent, The Cave had a much larger budget and a cast that included some well known names. It should have wiped the floor with The Descent but ultimately failed at the box office and is regarded as a below average movie.
Is it really as bad as many suggest it is?
It doesn’t begin well at all with two, yes that is two, cold starts. The first of which sees a large church and a village in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania during the 13th century destroyed by a landslide.
Many centuries later, we’re then introduced to a group Soviet and British soldiers who are searching for supposed buried treasure in this lost church.
They find it, go inside and discover a large floor mosaic that is sealing an entry to caves below it. Being the smart soldiers that they are, they decide to blow it open thus causing the church to collapse around them. The men fall into the cavern below and are trapped. Their part of the story ends when they hear noises in the darkness.
Finally, the actual cast enter as we jump forward in time again to meet a group of scientists and cave explorers/spelunkers/divers who are going in to investigate the cave system below the mountains and ruined church.
Led by Dr. Nicolai (Marcel Iureș) who believes there may be an undiscovered ecosystem inside. His team includes his associate Dr. Kathryn Jennings (Lena Headey) and cameraman Alex Kim (Daniel Dae Kim).
They, alongside brothers Jack (Cole Hauser) and Tyler McAllister (Eddie Cibrian), and their team head into the caves. There, they discover a whole new world, one that has been left untouched by man for centuries, maybe even longer.
This is where The Cave is at its best, showing the imaginative and impressive locations.
Things start to go wrong for the group though when one of them is attacked by an unseen creature and an explosion causes a cave-in forcing the rest to go deeper to find a way out.
There’s something in the dark and it is hungry for human flesh.
Overall, the story is fine. However, The Cave delivers it an overly long and cliché heavy way. There is intrigue at first but seemingly worried that the audience wouldn’t be able to follow along, a character is always ready and willing to exposit. Even when there is no way they could have any real idea of what is going on. A great example of this is when Jennings somehow works out just what the creatures are.
This would be passable if the movie made up for it elsewhere, but it doesn’t.
A bunch of cliché spouting, bland and forgettable characters force a mostly competent cast to barely try. With the depth of a puddle, there’s nothing to grab on to here and even less to care about. The relationships and motivations of the characters are barely there resulting in the feeling that we’re just going from one set-piece to another. Which might have been fine if these were particularly exciting or tension heavy but they’re not.
As for the monsters? It’s appreciated that they’re kept in the shadows for quite a while as the CGI hasn’t aged the best. However, the concept behind their creation is exciting. It’s just a shame it amounts to so little in the end.
Talking of which…the ending. Without giving it away, it is the most hilariously bad finale seen in some time. One of those genuine ‘what the…did they just do that?’ moments that has to be seen to be believed.
Of course, getting to that point is the problem and not something we can recommend anyone do. Just go watch The Descent instead.
The Final Score - 4/10