Saturday, April 3, 2021

Movie Review: A Good 'B' Movie - The Cave

While I am not usually a horror fan, something about The Cave piqued my interest. “
In the 13th-century Carpathian Mountains of Romania, an Eastern Orthodox abbey and its inhabitants are destroyed by a landslide. Centuries later, a group of modern-day Soviet and British plunderers search for the long-lost abbey during the Cold War era. They discover the abbey is built above a vast cave system, but it is completely blocked off by an intricate floor mosaic. Trying to blast their way in, they cause a landslide that buries the abbey, trapping the men in the cavern below. They descend further into the cave in hopes of finding a way out, even as they hear strange sounds in the darkness. Some time later, present day, a new team, led by Dr. Nicolai, with his associate Dr. Kathryn Jennings and cameraman Alex Kim explore the site, and the mythology behind the winged demons depicted in the mosaic on the abbey's floor. Local biologists believe the cave could contain an undiscovered ecosystem, so they hire a group of American spelunkers led by brothers Jack and Tyler McAllister – thrill-seeking professional cave explorers who run a world-famous team of divers.” (Wikipedia)

 Yes, this has all been done before but somehow this version brought a little freshness to a tired trope. Of course the Knights Templar are involved and they’re always good for an ancient mystery. Again, of course, the looters failed to grasp the significance of the mosaic, with images of skeletal winged demons with oddly human faces and very, very long teeth, and the reason the monks had sealed off the cave in the first place. The cast is also good, albeit since this was made in 2005, some had not achieved their fame of today: Lena Headey, Eddie Cibrian, and Morris Chestnut star. The pace is slow in parts which would be logical as they investigate this new ecosystem. However, the science part of this science fiction/horror flick does work in that there are ecosystems where creatures flourish in almost total darkness underwater.

Where the plot got lost is in having too many back and forth forays into various tunnels (above and under water) with people being attacked by the fearsome creatures. But that aside, the special effects are great, and the pace speeds up as the last remaining survivors have to get out. One of the crew members bitten by a creature starts to exhibit signs of turning, which adds to the rising suspense and tension. Schlocky it might be, but you will be sitting on the edge of your seat. The director saved the best for last in that when two of the remaining three survivors meet up, it becomes apparent that the parasite wishes to escape. A fantastic ending.

What a pity there has never been a sequel, but this was because (I surmise) it was considered a flop. The movie did not do well, garnering negative reviews and not making much over the original budget. But the photography is really brilliant and although critics slammed the lack of character development, this is an action horror movie. Does one really worry about character development if the cast is being chased by monsters bent on killing them? The movie worked for me. 4/5


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