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“the cavern” – film review

 

oh dear, did i watch a stinker last night? 😦

charlotte loves horrors, so most nights when i ask her what dvd she wants to watch she fancies a horror. last night we watched the cavern (US title: WIthIN) and it was dire.

its about a bunch of idiots who climb inside a cave and get killed.

why was it so bad? how long do you have? well, for a start the acting wasn’t very good. the actors all looked like they were b-grade soap actors who’d now got their chance at a real movie! as such they take themselves so seriously – it killed me. too many of them tried to make too much of their little moments and they all gave us the the serious eyebrows and set mouth to great effect.

i’m fully aware that the blame isn’t always the actors’ and one can see that all of them certainly have some ability. its the director’s job to film them well and let them know if they’re making idiots of themselves – olatunde osunsanmi just left them to die an ugly death on the screen ( 🙂 ). mr osunsanmi is further to blame with the cinematogrophy which was annoying. he seems to have discovered a new and exciting jarring camera effect and it excites him so much that he uses it regularly. further crimes include tons of shots where the bloody helmet-lights of the cavers shine directly into our eyes (to engage us more directly, of course) and countless realistic (and stupid) camera angles. for some reason he also thought it would be a good idea to film them upside down sometimes – for no reason at all. the mind boggles.

however, there is only so much you can do with a piece of toilet paper that someone accidentally mistook for a screenplay. and when i discovered that the screenplay is by the selfsame olatunde osunsanmi then i started seeing his involvement in this film as much more sinister. the dialogue wasn’t bad, although there were some clangers like “the cave is howling” and there was a lot of very badly handled swearing. if done well, swearing can work in a film, and the way you know if its working is if you don’t notice it – once it stands out then you know its crap. but what makes this script truly awful is the exposition and character development.

whenever you take the audience to a world they’re probably not familiar with you have to introduce them to it and give them a sense of this world, as done effectively in point break and… well, i can’t think of another, so point break for instance. the audience probably doesn’t know about caving and so has to be introduced to the concept and get some idea as to why they do it and whats cool about it. this is where the majority of the serious-eyebrow, set-mouth acting comes in – the characters deliver these annoying and “deep” speeches about what caving means to them and their past caving experiences. this is handled in such a heavy-handed and overly-serious manner that my skin crawled. the worst moment came when one indo-hispanic type character went on this interminable quasi-spiritual speech about why they climb down caves. trust me, it went on and on. a long speech like that, with one rigidly-set pair of eyebrows, at such an early stage in the film is cinematic suicide.

this was a truly awful film. if you were strapped to a chair and forced to watch it you’d probably survive. under any other conditions i’d avoid it like the plague.

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Categories: film
  1. July 16, 2007 at 11:59 am

    those speeches around the camp fire were more deadly than the monster in the cavern!!!

  2. July 16, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    This almost sounds like one of those that are so bad, they are actually good 😛 (or just go right back to bad)

    I think I remember seeing a trailer for it a long time ago. Thanks for the warning – I shall avoid it. Your review was quite entertaining to read, though 😀

  3. jean pierre
    July 16, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    haha! thanks nymeth. i know the sort of films you mean. 😀

    and now that you put it that way – knowing how awful it is it might be quite fun to watch! 🙂

    although… thinking about it now, the ending is very gross and a little disturbing. so… unfortunately it wouldn’t even be good in a bad way.

  4. July 17, 2007 at 1:42 am

    I think I’ve watched quite a few “epics” like this one. “Pet Sematary 2” for example. When you’re sleep-deprived and junked on caffeine, they can be quite funny at 3am. Hee.

    Movies like these should be watched with friends and loved ones, so that after the show you guys can spend quality time bitching about how you wasted 2 hours of your life watching the utter crap that got funding for a movie.

  5. July 17, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    So…you didn’t like it then. 😉

    I thought this was probably pretty bad considering how poorly it did in theatres. Thanks for the warning. There have certainly been many horror films done well over the last few years so there is no sense wasting time with a stinker.

    Not sure I would have decided to try to ‘explain’ cave exploration to people…isn’t it a pretty natural thing to like exploring?

    Anyway, nice job with the review of a bad film.

  6. jean pierre
    July 17, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    dark orpheus, “pet sematary 2” is fun! 🙂 it does help having edward furlong in it though.

    and you’re right, its best when one watches them with friends and loved ones. i watched it with my wife – although i think i rather spoiled it by going on about how bad it was.

    what made it worse, though, was the bloody ending. the ending was so gross and a real kick in the stomach. ironically, as charlotte said to me, the ending was probably the “best” part of it, as it had such a strong impact. but the ending took the film to a new level of badness because it made us feel icky and deprived us of even being able to laugh at the film.

    aah, carl, thou wert wise to consult the oracle of the box office.

    and if you could see the weary and unimpressed look on my face you’d know that i too can’t understand why they’d want to “explain” caving.

  7. July 17, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Hmmmm…I generally like bad horror movies. And I usually watch them all! I haven’t had the opportunity to see this one though!

  8. Jeff S.
    July 17, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    You had me cracking up with the whole ” explaining of caveing “. That’s too much. Sorry you had to sit through such a stinker but, look on the bright side it made for a very interesting blog post. 🙂

    My wife and I also watched another stinker of a horror movie recently. It was called an ” American Haunting ” with Donald Sutherland. It was ok up until the last 15 minutes when the real villian is revealed and it just made us want to puke. We defiently had that we just lost two hours we can never get back feeling.

    Carl and I did see Silent Hill last year and it was really good. So if Charlotte and you haven’t seen it yet I would recommend it and I belive Carl would as well. In fact I’m pretty sure Carl has a movie review up of it on his blog from last year in his reviews section.

  9. jean pierre
    July 18, 2007 at 8:36 am

    well, stephanie, i really hope you like it. as a few of us have now said, if you go into one of these films expecting it to be then you can actually have quite a bit of fun. although, i must still add, that ending isn’t nice, so be prepared.

    jeff, i’m glad you liked it 🙂 and you’re right, it did give me a chance to make a fun post and talk about bad horrors with you guys – which made totally made it worth it.

    charlotte and i have also seen “an american haunting” and like you were unimpressed with the revelation towards the end. it was a pity because we were rather enjoying it up until that point.

    we’ve also seen “silent hill” and while it was by no means perfect, we enjoyed it a lot! its very much the kind of gothic horror we like. those nurses are just too freaky. in fact there is so much cool imagery in that film. just the place, silent hill, alone was cool. i loved the look of it. and there was a nice mystery element.

  10. July 18, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Have you seen The Descent? It also has caves. But it has horror and good film making too.

  11. jean pierre
    July 18, 2007 at 11:35 am

    thanks for the recommendation. maybe it’ll purge the experience of watching “the bloody cavern” for me.

    when i told the guy at the dvd shop how bad this was he mentioned “the descent” too and said it was good. i discovered that there was also a film called “the cave” and all three of these caving films came out in 2005. really annoying. apparantly “the descent” is the best of them.

  12. July 18, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Have you seen Dog Soldiers? It is a werewolf film with British squaddies, and is very good in a dark humour/horror way. The same director/writer is responsible for it and The Descent, although they are very different films. I prefer Dog Soldiers, but horror fans may prefer The Descent

  13. jean pierre
    July 18, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    i have. i quite liked it, although not as much as i had hoped. i liked the dark humour and the edginess a lot, though.

    i also like sean pertwee. he’s very cool!

  14. July 19, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Sean is “the man” all right 🙂

  15. rjschwarz
    February 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I actually enjoyed the first hour. I expect setup to be slow and somewhat lame I guess. Then at the one hour mark the the camera shaking went nuts, long stretches of black screen, and the bad guy became comic-booky unbelieavble and I realized they never really showed much of a cavern. Just dirty tunnels, nothing grand. By the time we got to the nihlistic ending I had turned on the movie big-time.

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