By accident, we watched THE CAVE (2005), a cheesy movie about some professional cave divers who run into monsters in a cave. Lisa thought people had said good things about it, but she was in fact thinking about THE DESCENT (also 2005), about five women who run into monsters in a cave. The two movies share the same territory: a half dozen or so people go down in a cave, are trapped by a cave-in and have to find their way out. And there are blind, subterranean monsters who can see in the dark.
THE CAVE has monsters designed by Patrick Tatopoulous (STARGATE), a lot of underwater footage, huge sets, multiple environments. It starts in the Yucatan for no real reason, and then goes to Romania. (For once, Romania being shot for Romania, yay!) It feels like a big budget movie, except for the lack of name actors. After director Bruce Hunt has fun with everything being dark that doesn't have a flashlight on it, he abandons that so he can light up his lovely sets. There are barely any characters to speak of. There's the Leader, there's his brother The Hunk, there's the Babe Scientist (I never get tired of Lena Headey), there's the Reckless Dude, there's Reckless Babe, and there's an Older Scientist. But none of them have very much to do except react to their bad situation, and sometimes be brave and heroic. You could swap their characters for any other characters and the script would still play. It's really a movie about monsters in a cave.
THE DESCENT feels like an indie movie. First of all, there's the interesting decision to cast all women. The movie starts with a tragic accident that lays the emotional foundation for the story. They're trapped without hope of rescue for a character-based reason, not an external reason. That provokes resentment, a sense of grievance. One of the women can't be trusted. Some of the women are cowardly. The movie is about how these women react to a terrifying threat. The cave is cool, but they would be interesting to watch in a different terrifying situation.
In THE DESCENT, the monsters are just as goofy looking as in THE CAVE. (Some day I'd like to see a movie in which the monsters are sleek and beautiful. You know, tigers are beautiful. But if you're in an environment with a tiger, you're in serious trouble.) But director Neil Marshall keeps them mostly in the dark. As, you know, they would be, in a cave.
So THE DESCENT is frakking terrifying. And THE CAVE is just something that will kill 97 minutes of your time on Earth.
Labels: film reviews