Saturday, 23 February 2013

No.72 : The Cave

The Cave at IMDb

If you’d asked me to write a short review of The Cave without having seen it I’d have guessed something along the lines of ‘a group of kids gets stuck in a cave and get picked off one by one by monsters’. And having seem the film that potted review would have been uncannily accurate!

It is however better than you’d expect and certainly worth more than the 4.9 currently awarded to it by the IMDb. It is predictable, offering little in the way or innovation or surprise but there was enough to keep me engaged to the end and dare I say it - ready for more?

We open “30 years ago in Cold War Romania” to find a group of men heading up a mountain pass. They are driving a big armoured personnel carrier but their motivation isn’t clear. At first I thought they were mercenaries or looters but it seems they were just potholers looking for a cave . Strange choice of wheels though and why bring along an explosives expert? The explosives expert is nothing of the kind and manages to blow up the small church the cave entrance is supposedly hidden in, as well as the surrounding mountains. The hapless gang fall into the titular cave never to be seen again - or will they?

Of course these nitwits failed to observe even the basic rules of horror films - they weren’t nearly sexy enough and they ignored a big skull and crossbones on the floor. Still, 30 years in a cave will fix them!

We flash forward 30 years and a far sexier group of college kids are seeking some thrills. They have heard of the legendary Rumanian cave and manage to find the entrance in five minutes. They have loads of high tech gear including sonar emitters and camera equipment and surely they are prepared for anything. Hmmm.

They set up camp and plot out their next 12 days of exploration. They find an albino mole and the voice of exposition says that things evolve quickly and differently underground - remember that for later! In no time flat there is a cave-in and our people are trapped - and they’re not alone!

Minor cast members are picked off and we learn that the monsters stalking them are the potholers of 30 years back, who have evolved into extras from ‘Aliens’ that can fly too - they weren’t lying about that rapid evolution! Using improbable logic the surviving lady determines a parasite is invading host bodies and turning them into the monsters they encounter. The metamorphosis initially takes the shape of them wearing snake eye contact lenses but for how long can they fight before they turn for good? Can anyone escape and should they even try, given the nature of the parasite?

Despite misgivings I enjoyed ‘The Cave’ - I was anticipating a lot of shouting in the dark but the cave was remarkably well lit something that didn’t seem to surprise our heroes and frankly it was a welcome sop to the viewer. The monsters were a familiar mix of teeth and slime but pretty vicious and persistent. Some of the attacks were marred with too many fast cuts and it was hard to see what was happening - whether this was to emphasise panic or a depleted budget I don’t know.

The cast were all young and fit apart from the craggy professor -and he got dispatched early. The only familiar name to me in the cast was Lena ‘Ma-Ma’ Headey and she gave a good showing despite the far-fetched subject matter.

At a tight 90 minutes the film kept a good pace with new monsters appearing to thwart each plan of escape - wasn’t expecting that flying one at all! A lot of throwaway nonsense but entertaining throwaway nonsense and well worth a look.

THE Tag Line -  Cave a Near Rave! 68%

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