* (out of 5)
August 26, 2005
Cole Hauser as JACK
Morris Chestnut as BUCHANAN
Eddie Cibrian as TYLER
Rick Ravanello as PHILLIP BRIGGS
Marcel Iures as DR. NICOLAI
Lena Headey as KATHERINE
Piper Perabo as CHARLIE
Studio: Screen Gems
Directed by: Bruce Hunt
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve always been relatively kind to giant monster movies. I actually tend to like them and see them for what they are – escapism entertainment. Case in point, I thought the “Anaconda” movies to be great fun. It’s always a blast to watch a bunch of people you really don’t care that much about get eaten by a monster.
When I first saw trailers for “The Cave,” it looked like a cross between “Pitch Black” and “Anaconda.” I didn’t think too much of it, just that in the guilty pleasure recess of my mind, I was somewhat interested in seeing it.
Then I saw it… and things took a turn for the worse.
Rarely does a movie come along that I can’t at least give some points to for being what it is. Take “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” as an example. That movie is exactly what it was meant to be. Sure, the movie critic elite thought it was awful, but it did what it needed to do. (I happened to like it.)
I can’t even say that about “The Cave.” As a big fan of monster movies, I saw nothing but a mess of flaws and poorly constructed thrills. After seeing some decent shockers this year like “High Tension” and “The Skeleton Key,” I thought that maybe we were out of the doldrums of awful 2005 horror films. But with as bad as “The Cave” was, I felt like I was watching “Hide and Seek” or “The Boogeyman” all over again.
As you might expect, there isn’t much of a plot to “The Cave.” It begins thirty years ago in Romania when an expedition falls into this hidden cave and is attacked by something. Flash forward to the present, and we have an elite cave diving team being brought in to explore this newly rediscovered underground cave. Cole Hauser plays the leader of the group, sort of a low-rent Bruce Willis from “Armageddon.”
As for the rest of the team, I couldn’t tell you who was who. One was the brother of Hauser’s character, and there was a hot scientist (isn’t there always?) from Romania accompanying them on the trip. Once they get underground, they start getting killed by mysterious bat-like creatures lurking about. Of course, the divers don’t need the creatures to kill them. They do a fine job hurting each other by getting in fights, not following orders and surfing down underground river rapids.
Early in the film, we’re treated to one of the dumbest lines uttered in America cinema this year: “Respect the cave.” The dialogue doesn’t get any better. I have no respect for “The Cave.”
C-list stars like Morris Chestnut and Piper Perabo look good in their climbing gear but are clearly just holding their noses throughout the movie so they could collect a paycheck. The cinematography is uninspired and replaces style with camera shakes so bad that you never get a good look at the creatures – even in the end.
I appreciate the fact that the movie is trying to build off the Dracula and vampire legends in the Carpathian Mountains, but this was so poorly executed that I forgot that link. The lack of story just goes on and on with people aimlessly spelunking through Romania that I got hideously bored. It’s a bad sign when you have to run to the snack bar for a Coke because you were falling asleep during an action sequence.
But at least it achieved some form of realism. “The Cave” feels like you’re stuck in a cave for ninety minutes.
I’m hesitant to say “don’t go see this movie” because I know theater owners are taking it in the shorts this year with low turn-out. (And let’s face it, they deserve to make a living as well.) Rather, let’s make this moviegoing experience at least therapeutic. Let’s just say that you should go see “The Cave” – if you’re looking for a cure for intelligence, insomnia or constipation.