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A really foul stench wafts up from The Cave

by Glen Baity

The Cave pretty much encapsulates what you can expect from Hollywood over the next few weeks: the stuff of less-than-great Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies, with a special effects budget worth about ten times the actual film. The tagline, inarguably the film’s strongest point, informs us that, ‘“beneath Heaven lies Hell. Beneath hell lies’…The Cave.’” Beneath that, I conclude, lies the experience of actually watching this piece of crap.

People often wonder about the lack of originality in Hollywood films, and everyone has theories, most of which resemble the following:

A machine somewhere, a crude computer running MS-DOS, churns out movie plots like The Cave’s. For the sake of discussion, we’ll call this computer ‘Pitchbot.’ Near the end of every full moon cycle, film studio marketing interns are made to open their veins and spill their young blood into Pitchbot, at which point it sputters to life with the grating, rusty sound of a 20-year-old lawnmower (I imagine Pitchbot resembles The Mangler in many not-at-all superficial ways). Coughing out black smoke, it loudly prints this paragraph:

‘“A crack team of (spelunkers/base jumpers/snowboarders) is called in by (NASA/The White House/a rich, mysterious benefactor/the CIA) to (investigate/explore/blow up) the biggest potential threat to humanity ever known in the form of a(n) (asteroid the size of Texas/terrorist sleeper cell/massive underground cave). What they find is (deadly/terrifying/a thinly disguised rip-off of Alien/vaguely arousing).’”

At some point, the printout is faxed to Jerry Bruckheimer, who circles words at random. It then wends its way through the studio system (in a manner no less occult and disturbing, though probably more graphic), and nine months later a ‘new’ film is born.

Enough speculation, though ‘— here’s what we know (follow along on your Pitchbot worksheets): The Cave, directed by newcomer Bruce Hunt, is about a team of scuba diving spelunkers commissioned to explore ‘— that’s right ‘— a network of caves discovered under the ruins of a Romanian church. Once inside, they realize they are being hunted by a new, deadly species that thrives in the inhospitable nether-regions of the cave. The spelunkers fight the predators using the awesome power of their severe jaw lines and their mastery of Xtreme sport.

And that’s about it. At this point in the season, studios tend to jettison the garbage in the hope that they’ll get some good faith from people still flying high from decent summer fare like Batman Begins. Don’t be drawn in ‘— for all practical purposes, the summer movie season ended three weeks ago, and The Cave was probably pushed this far back because it’s not as good as Bewitched. The characters are all horny, unaccountably angst-ridden and relentlessly boring. Under great duress, they say things to one another like ‘“don’t stop believing,’” and they describe pretty much everything as either ‘awesome’ or ‘totally rockin’.’ In a horror movie, characters like this are good for exactly one thing ‘— cannon fodder. It’s fine if they’re all vapid and useless, but if more than one of them is still alive by the end of the film, somebody has some serious explaining to do. I never thought I’d actually say this, but the filmmakers could stand to learn a lot from the later installments of the Friday the 13th series.

The Cave is a very dull carbon copy of other films (and by ‘other films’ I mean ‘Alien’), and not to seem too snooty, but it’s only going to be entertaining if 1) you’ve never seen a movie before, or 2) you really, really love Morris Chestnut. Finding myself unable to fill either pair of shoes, The Cave remains, in my mind, utterly worthless.

Why does Glen Baity hate everything? Why don’t you ask him via e-mail at egothelivingplanet@excite.com?

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