Sony Screen Gems’ The Cave was an action-packed horror movie, but I liked it better when it was called… Pitch Black. But what I completely forgot was that I saw Pitch Black once- and didn’t like it then either. Ok, enough with the jokes, Sony’s film, which was written by Michael Steinberg and Tegan West, is Pitch Black in water. Same story, same characters, same everything- only they threw a small zombie twist in the mix.
The Cave follows a pack of divers, led by Jack (Cole Hauser) and his brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian), who find an underwater cave one mile under water. They go with a team to check out this 12 mile long cave and get trapped after one of their members’ oxygen tank explodes. While looking for a way out they find two little creatures who (revealed through tests) have some sort of virus/bacteria infection. Hmmmm, wonder what happens next.
Director Bruce Hunt shows that he just assisted in directing three Matrix movies. He completely forgets the element he’s in and instead of making a horror film he brings us another action/horror pic from Sony. I wish I could send a memo to every filmmaker in the world that simply states, “Less is more in a horror film, if too much is revealed it becomes an action flick.” But apparently some people are more concerned with showing big monsters with big explosions (see Uwe Boll for more).
Lions Gate Films has a similar film called The Descent (review) hitting theaters in 2006, and as much as they’re close in plot, Descent is a far superior film. Why? Because Neil Marshall brings the audience into a cave and then seals us in the dark- we catch glimpses of creatures and our imagination makes it more terrifying that anything they could ever show us.
As much as I love Patrick Tatopoulos’ work, and his fantastic creature designs, I didn’t want to see every last detail of his monsters- right down to a tattoo on a creatures back (shown twice too many).
The premise is actually really great, only I didn’t like where the second act led. They spend a good ten minutes early in the film prepping us for the creatures, telling us they’re demons from hell. So when we find out they aren’t, it ruins the seriousness of the situation- plus it makes the flame engulfed set design in the finale pointless (why do we need a cave breathing fire if these aren’t really demons from hell?) After the first 30 minutes of the flick, it basically becomes a zombie movie as Jack becomes ‘infected’ and it’s way too obvious (if you couldn’t tell from the pics Sony released). The entire film turns into the “when will he turn on them” cliché.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just get angrier as I continue writing. If you liked that pile of dung they called Pitch Black, then you’ll dig The Cave– but if you’re sick of recycled action/horror films with the same boring plot, same characters, useless reveals (twists) and wasted scares, save your money and wait for The Descent.