Summer movies scare the shit out of me. Despite a few gems here and there, they usually fall into the dumb action flick catagory and end up losing the viewer somewhere between the sixty-fifth explosion and the twenty-third chase scene. They can be easily forgettable, but they do serve one purpose: They’re good for a laugh, and if you like mindless entertainment, then summertime is the season for you! Enter — The Cave.
My initial impression of The Cave was “Wow. Looks like Pitch Black in a cave.” The presence of Cole Hauser and the scene in the trailer (strangely absent from the film, BTW) with the guy saying something to the effect of, “Follow me if you want to survive” and then lighting a flare to reveal beasties in front of him only served to strengthen this notion. Thankfully, I was wrong. However, it is a story we’ve seen before, most recently in last year’s summer flop AVP.
You know — a long hidden discovery is made, explorers set out to be the first to claim it, monsters show up, shit hits the fan, roll credits. However, The Cave does overcome the mediocrity thanks to some clever plot twists and some really great camera work.
In fact, from a technical standpoint The Cave really holds its own. Director Bruce Hunt does an amazing job of creating the type of cut off, claustrophobic sense that a film like this needs. The peril comes not just from the creatures inhabiting the cave but from the cave itself. An entire world slowly unfurls before our eyes, showing us different types of creatures that could evolve living in an environment like this. That, coupled with some tight sound design, really sucks the viewer in. Sad to say, that’s not the only thing that sucks.
The script. What a friggin’ mess. The acting at times seems very uneven, but I firmly believe that’s just because the actors were given nearly impossible-to-deliver while sounding serious dialogue. While Bruce Hunt does have an eye for the camera, he is severely lacking in the direction of actors department. The cheesy Star Wars inspired sonar blaster noises are incredibly out of place and silly, and The Solemn Nod™ scene between Hauser and Lena Headey is laughable beyond words! Talk about as cliche as it gets! I can just hear the director, “Ok, Lena, call out to Cole! That’s it. Ok, wait for it, wait … for … it — nod. YES!!!!”
The troubles don’t end there either. Another thing The Cave shares with AVP is proof positive how much a PG-13 rating can kill the feel of a film and completely take you out the action. From quick cutaways from the violence to the ever dreaded “Come on, you motherf” CUT TO NEXT SCENE Moment™, you cannot help but wonder why the filmmakers even bother. True, you don’t need profanity in a film to make it good, but alluding to it is nothing short of dumb. I’m sorry, but if I had a 7-foot flying lizard soaring through the air at me, I wouldn’t be thinking of minding my manners and exclaiming, “They’re freakin’ flying!” Again, why bother? *shakes head*
Still, despite its shortcomings, The Cave does deliver on some of its promises. The monsters are unique and thankfully under-exposed, and at times it can be one hell of a ride. I just wish the execs behind these films would start treating us like adults. If a film has adult themes, stop trying to cash in on the teen market. Taking the hell out of a hellish situation can make a could be good film like The Cave sink straight into a fucking bottomless abyss. Note my R-Rated bravado. Screw you, Hollywood. Thanks.
The Cave (2005)
Directed by Bruce Hunt
Starring Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnut, Eddie Cibrian, and Lena Headey
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