Jarv’s Birthday Series: The Cave (2005)

2005 was a funny old year. I was working freelance, and Me and Mrs. Jarv were just married. 7 fucking years. Christ. All those bastards that bet that we would be divorced in a year, well, if you read this: Pay up. Not joking, I’m skint- I need the money.

In the meantime, the film industry for some reason, probably pure coincidence decided to release two horror films based around underground shenanigans on the same summer. The Descent, which turned out to be one of the finest films of the decade, was released on July 8th in the UK (d’oh) and promptly posted disastrous numbers for its first few weekends in the UK (it did eventually make 5 times its original production budget back worldwide in the cinema). However, that’s (sadly) not the film that I get to review. Instead,on 26th August, The Cave slithered out from under a rock to annoy me intensely by being deeply crap and not a patch on Marshall’s spelunking nightmare.

The question remains, did the world need two cave and creature based horror films?

No, obviously, of course it didn’t. Particularly when the second of them was a CGI riven sack of crap. Whereas Marshall’s The Descent had a relatively tiny budget and so relied on the location, a crushing sense of claustrophobia and the very real danger that the women were in, The Cave had three times as much cash to play with. Marshall’s nightmare is all clever lighting accentuating the confinement, each chamber in The Cave has enough neon around that I genuinely thought it was set in the far future and Vegas had sunk beneath the desert before a strange tectonic movement had sent it to Romania.

The Cave tells the story of an ace diving crew led by Cole Hauser’s Jack. The crew consists of his brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian), Biologist Kathryn (Lena Headey) and assorted cannon fodder, the most important of which is Piper Perabo’s Charlie. For reasons too boring to get into, our intrepid crew find themselves trapped in an underground ecosystem (that’s been isolated from the rest of the world) and at the mercy of evil cave creatures being controlled by a parasite that mutates their DNA.

This film is, frankly, shit. To start with, it’s inordinately stupid and the blame for that comes from the script and direction (supplied by Michael Steinberg, Tegan West on writing duty and Bruce Hunt on direction). I’ve already dealt with the idiotic lighting, so I’ll leave that aside, but the myriad flaws (before I get to the spoiler at the end) in the writing are so, so aggravating. On a simple level: this is a film set primarily underground. So why, other than that the narrative required it, have our evil cave monsters mutated wings? Why? Are they flying for the fucking moon? Or is it just badly thought out? I know which one I’m going for. Secondly, the characters and character motivation is astonishingly half-witted. Jack, for example, gets infected with the parasite and as such struggles to control his urges for the rest of the film before the inevitable heroic sacrifice that the story demands. I can’t remember a single piece of dialogue or single character motivation other than Jack’s a hardass and Tyler likes to push the limits. Paper-thin doesn’t do it justice.

Furthermore, there’s nothing in the way of tension here. They hop down into the cave, one of them swims ahead to set up base camp then BLAMMO! fighting creatures ahoy! There’s nothing in the way of creeping dread or lingering tension, just simply no build up whatsoever. I wouldn’t mind this in an action film, but this plays out like a horror film- and you can even predict the order and reason for the characters dying. Easily the best moment in the film is Charlie’s demise, but even that has no tension (it’s obvious she’s doomed) and is little more than mildly amusing. There is simply nothing here to compare with Juno climbing across the chasm, let alone when the cave-in happens, in The Descent.

Then there is the big “twist” to consider. This is an enormous dirty spoiler coming, so if you care, stop reading now. Kathryn gets separated from her group and disappears off camera. I bet you can see where this is going. She’s rescued by Tyler and one of the few to make it out of the cave. The final scene of the film has her sitting to coffee with Tyler, but what’s that? Her eyes are all fucked up! She’s infected! Hang on, in that case, how come she’s not exhibiting any of Jack’s symptoms? Honestly, he looked like he had a bad case of dysentery crossed with that psoriasis. Kathryn, on the other hand, looks like she just stepped out of a fucking spa. Pathetic. I can’t stand it when films that want to be taken seriously break their own internal logic, and even were this mint, which it isn’t, I’d still be deducting it 2 Changs just for this.

Then there’s the acting. Hauser is a plank, as he was a plank in Pitch Black and as I am sure he’s a plank in everything else. Headey clearly doesn’t give a fuck and would rather be anywhere else, Perabo was never the best actor in the world and neither is Cibrian. It’s just pointless talking about the acting here, because the only one of them capable of doing a better job, Headey, doesn’t give a fuck.

This is just an appalling film. It’s boring for the most part, and predictable and stupid when it isn’t being dull. The acting is crap, the lighting is the antithesis of what it should be and the whole experience is an utter waste of time. The real problem is that when it compares to The Descent, then it’s just really lacking. If it had a sense of fun to it, or some style and was more Aliens to The Descent’s Alien then I’d be more inclined to forgive it.

Overall, this is a rotten film and not one I recommend. I do recommend The Descent, so there’s absolutely no reason at all to watch The Cave. There’s not even any boob to liven proceedings. However, what really gets my goat is the twist ending, and I would be a lot more generous with it were it not for that. Nevertheless, any film with a twist as stupid as this one that shatters its own internal logic with so little care ranks as downright slapdash in my book. When you combine this with the lack of acting, lack of tension, stupid lighting, and crap monsters, then you get a loaf of a film and I rate it with half an angry crawler from The Descent out of four.

Basically, fuck this film, it’s a waste of time and utterly worthless. I suggest you watch The Descent instead.

Next up is a surprisingly good film. Marky Mark plays American football in Invincible.

Until then,


The full list in this series:

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

62 responses to “Jarv’s Birthday Series: The Cave (2005)”

  1. Continentalop says :

    I’m just going to say it sound like your talent for writing reviews is being wasted: this film sounds like it doesn’t deserve anything as good as you just wrote.

    • Jarv says :

      Cheers Conti-

      This film deserves NOTHING.

      Not a damned thing. It’s probably the most totally worthless film on this list.

      It isn’t the worst film: Columbus, MBD, Xanadu and DD are all worse than it, but there’s just no point to anything here.

  2. Droid says :

    I’ve seen this and I remember absolutely nothing about it.

    at the mercy of evil cave creatures being controlled by a parasite that mutates their DNA

    So they’re evil to begin with, then get mutated by a bastard parasite?

    • Jarv says :


      It’s ANOTHER moment of pure dumbness. They’re cavers from something like 50 years ago that became evil after being mutated and the parasite is controlling them.


      • Droid says :

        I know I’m not supposed to ask these questions, but if they mutated from humans, and at the very least, their physiology would remain human, what did they eat? Were there families of cavers in there? Because how did they mate. I’m asking because presumably these aren’t evil mutated cave pensioners we’re dealing with. So the logical conclusion is it’s their offspring. But since caving was mostly a mans game back then, I’m not sure where these offspring have come from.

        Am I overthinking this one?

      • Jarv says :

        No mating- they’re the same ones that fell in at the start. So, yes, evil mutated Cave Pensioners- our intrepid group of losers is able to identify them.

        There are other animals like scorpions in the cave. I suppose they ate those.


      • Droid says :

        Christ, if I was 80-odd and I’d lived in a cave for 50 years surrounded by the same people and nothing to eat but scorpions I’d be in a real shitty mood too.


        I’m just amusing myself by imagining if the creatures the morons had encountered were actually pensioners. “Damn kids! Get off my cave!”

      • Jarv says :



        It’s such bollocks.

  3. Xiphos0311 says :

    Lena Heady may not give a fuck but she is damn easy on the eyes. Piper Peraboo, or as I call of her as Not Julia Roberts, is weird looking.

    This review was much too good for what sounds like an absolute dud of a flick.

  4. Bartleby says :

    Jarv, good news. When does Dont be Afraid of the Dark come out there? Cause if its same as here, you will have a cracking good little horror movie to end your series on.

    I havent seen Conan or Fright Night yet but I doubt they are better.

    They went R-rated, creepy, and surprisingly bleak–which is in keeping with the original. They improved on that one in every way though.

    • Jarv says :

      I think it’s in Fright Fest. Or it may be out for the 23rd. If that’s the case, then I’ll finish on my Birthday, rather than afterwards like I was intending to.

      • Bartleby says :

        have you seen the original?

        And yes, the Cave is a hunk of crap. Wouldnt you know though, that it came out here in the States first, so when Descent debuted the summer after, plenty of knobheads were saying ‘Durrr, this ripped off The Cave!’

        I was also married in 2005, I think The Cave came out a month or so after our wedding. Made the mistake of going to it too. Errg.

      • Jarv says :

        Terrible film to start a marriage with.

        2005! Great year.

        No, I’ve not seen the original.

      • Jarv says :

        Also, forgot to say- the reason I mentioned the release date of The Descent, was it was absolutely crippled because that was when the July 7th terrorist bombings hit the UK.

      • Droid says :

        Not out until October. It’s on the thursday of FF.

      • Bartleby says :

        See, out in October makes much more sense. This would be a perfect Halloween season movie. Im concerned its gonna get lost over here amidst the remaining summer nonsense.

        Then again, the theater was pretty well packed last night and people seemed relatively freaked out, although satisfied when it wrapped up.

        Oh and there was tons of pint-sized stabbery!

      • Jarv says :

        I think I’ll save it till October and either do Conan on the Wednesday, Fiddle it badly and do Tropa 2 (also on Wednesday), or hold off and do FN after Frightfest.

        *bangs head on table*

      • Droid says :

        I saw The Descent at the cinema in the UK.

      • Jarv says :

        So did I. It was almost completely empty.

      • Droid says :

        I’d never heard of it. My sister suggested it. Freaked me the hell out.

  5. Droid says :

    Ugh. This is that girl that Gingerfats is always pimping.

    My Sucky Teen Romance

    Surprisingly appealing in its naïve charm, exuberant amateurishness and unabashed pop culture, this micro-budget horror-comedy is the third feature written and directed by 18 year-old Austin, Texas, auteur prodigy Emily Hagins. Think ‘Diablo Cody does TWILIGHT’ for this peppy-paced NOSFERATU goes Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo made for teen geeks sufficiently self-aware to laugh at themselves. Kate, a bespectacled, college-bound nerd, is pleased to run into Paul, a shy but dreamy supermarket clerk, at Austin’s annual SpaceCon. Unfortunately, Paul has recently been turned into a vampire by an R Patz lookalike. When Paul accidentally bites Kate, it’s up to her dorky buddies to find a quick cure before Kate too joins the ranks of the undead. Laced with satire that’s often silly, sometimes sweet and occasionally bizarre, this hipster horror coasts by through sheer force of wit, energy, and “let’s put on a show!” creativity.

  6. Droid says :

    Jarv, the 2 tix for Innkeepers is £23.40. So.. £11.70.

    • Jarv says :

      Cool. That’s sunday, isn’t it.

      • Jarv says :

        Has anyone got anything going up? I’ve got all mine written for the Birthday list, and want to beat up a terrible film I watched last night.

      • Droid says :

        Nothing from me.

      • Droid says :

        Yep. Sunday at 4pm.

      • Droid says :

        You want me to book the tickets? You can get a free carer. I know you’ll be in a bit of a state by that stage. You might need someone to look after you.

      • Jarv says :

        Why not. It always works out so well when we go to film festivals (based entirely on the Sci Fi debacle last year).

      • Droid says :

        These seats okay? I’ve never been there so don’t know. Looks like the best on offer. It’s the two little shaded light purple seats in the middle of the purple section.

      • Jarv says :

        Fine with me.

      • Droid says :

        Does Mrs Jarv want to come?

      • Jarv says :

        I shall ask her.

      • Jarv says :

        Nope. She says she will pass.

        However, she will make us roast dinner instead.

      • Droid says :

        Cool. I’ll hold off. If Mrs Jarv wants to go you won’t need a carer. And I’ll see what the missus is doing. I think she was busy on the sunday, but I’ll have to double check.

      • Droid says :

        Okay then. Ignore that last post. I’ll get you the carer. You’ll need someone to wipe the dribble from your chin, old man.

      • Jarv says :

        Fuck you.

        I’m 3 weeks younger than you.


      • Bartleby says :

        I think she will enjoy it. Sort of a horror comedy, but very well done and mostly character motivated. Each movie for him seems like a step forward. Except Cabin Fever 2. I think he botched that one on purpose. It’s the complete antithesis of everything he’s done.

      • Droid says :

        Is it better than HOTD?

        Wasn’t he forced to make it CF2 gory or something. Or they simply shot a whole bunch of stuff without him.

      • Droid says :

        Touchy subject is it?


      • Jarv says :


        Still, I’m taking this better than Mrs. Jarv’s impending 32nd. Which is inducing tantrums 4 months in advance.

      • Droid says :

        Could this save the Fright Night remake?

        BBFC Consumer Advice: 18. Contains strong gore and language.

        Might not be a comedy, in the spirit of the original, but would gore save it from being a complete shitfest?

      • Jarv says :

        Well, an 18 certificate suggests that it might have some balls. Don’t hold out much hope for it though.

      • Droid says :

        Here’s what I read about Ti West and CF2.

        After extensive re-editing and re-shooting by the producers, writer/director Ti West requested to have his name removed from the film and replaced with the popular pseudonym Alan Smithee. Since he was not a member of the DGA his request was denied by the producers and he remains credited as the film’s director. West has since disowned the final product claiming that it is more a product of the producers and executives than that of his own. It is unknown if there will ever be a “directors cut” released featuring West’s original vision.

      • koutchboom says :

        To be fair Cabin Fever 2 did have some decent scenes.

      • Bartleby says :

        Im being optimistic about FN, but lets’ face it, gore has never actually saved a movie from being crap.

        Sometimes it might help elevate something if it’s used creatively, but gore for its own sake never does.

        Also, I’ve heard that Mclovin does a good share of cursing and that’s at l;east half the reason it’s rated R. Like they pad it with F bombs. I hope it still has the creative gore of the original. Nice thing about Dark was that it didnt have anything earning it an R besides the violence and the intensity of the set-up.

      • koutchboom says :

        Well at least the director has seen Thirst?

      • Jarv says :

        The Korean one? I doubt it.

  7. Droid says :

    Jarv, for your birthday, along with the copy of Jane Eyre, I’ll get you a ticket to a screening of the latest adaptation of Wuthering Heights. That’ll soften the blow of impending arthritis and dementia.

  8. Droid says :

    Holy shit! Forget about Conan. Jarv, this years birthday movie can be no other film than…

    One Day

    Release date… August 24, 2011

    • Droid says :

      Why is he doing that backward leg kick that leading ladies in old movies always do when they are kissed by the leading man?

      • Jarv says :

        Why is he doing that backward leg kick that leading ladies in old movies always do when they are kissed by the leading man?

        Because he’s a cunt.

    • Jarv says :

      Fuck you.

      There is no way that I’m going to watch that. I’ve read the book, and it’s about two hateful cunts that suffer will-they-won’t-they itis before a savagely cruel and strangely hilarious ending.

      It’s awful. Oh, and Hathaway is totally, utterly wrong for the part. That looks a genuine worst film of the year contender.

  9. ThereWolf says :

    I’ve had this on my Lovefilm list from the beginning.

    I can’t bring myself to take it off either. I’ll just leave it on ‘low priority’.

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