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.
The full list in this series:
- 1978 – The Driver (3 out of 4)
- 1979 – Life of Brian (4 out of 4)
- 1980 –Xanadu (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1981 – An American Werewolf in London (4 out of 4)
- 1982 – Class of 1984 (3 out of 4)
- 1983 – Fire and Ice (1 out of 4)
- 1984 – Cal (1/2 out of 4)
- 1985 – Teen Wolf (3 out of 4)
- 1986 –Reform School Girls (2.5 out of 4)
- 1987 – Dirty Dancing (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1988 – Married to the Mob (1 out of 4)
- 1989 – Millennium (1 out of 4)
- 1990 – Darkman (3 out of 4)
- 1991 – Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (2 out of 4)
- 1992 – Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1993 – Hard Target (3 out of 4)
- 1994 – Natural Born Killers (1 out of 4)
- 1995 – Desperado (3 out of 4)
- 1996 – Freeway (2.5 out of 4)
- 1997 – Mimic (2.5 out of 4)
- 1998 – Blade (3.5 out of 4)
- 1999 – Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1 out of 4)
- 2000 – Bring it On (1 out of 4)
- 2001 – Heartbreakers (0.5 out of 4)
- 2002 – Sim0ne (2 out of 4)
- 2003 – My Boss’s Daughter (Orangutan of Doom)
- 2004 – Exorcist: The beginning (1 out of 4)
- 2005 – The Cave (0.5 out of 4)
- 2006 – Invincible
- 2007 – War
- 2008 – Death Race
- 2009 – Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
- 2010 – Piranha 3D
- 2011 – Conan the Barbarian