If The Cave lies beneath Hell (as its poster and trailers state) but only extends a scant few miles below Romania’s Carpathian mountain range, then Satan’s lair must be dangerously close to the Earth’s surface and all young American children attempting to dig their way to China must immediately halt their projects lest they inadvertently create a new skylight for Beelzebub’s fiery residence. And even if the movie’s marketing people are incorrect about the titular cavern’s precise subterranean location vis-à-vis Hades, Bruce Hunt’s dud about a group of deep sea divers/cave explorers who become trapped in an ancient cave populated by parasite-spawned winged monsters is nonetheless a clumsy mutant hybrid pieced together with the flotsam and jetsam of Aliens, The Abyss, and Pitch Black. Hired by a local scientist (Marcel Iures) to check out the mysterious hole in the ground, the team, led by bossy leader Jack (Cole Hauser) and his rebellious brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian), soon finds itself trapped underground. While exploring their stalactite-decorated prison, Jack is scratched by a gigantic carnivorous beast and infected with a parasite that slowly gives him heightened senses akin to the prehistoric creatures. Yet despite their boss’s newfound paranormal powers, the featureless crew of moronic spelunkers (including Piper Perabo, Morris Chestnut, and The Brothers Grimm‘s Lena Headey) repeatedly disobeys perfectly reasonable orders and stumbles and bumbles its way into fatal danger. With torch-lit action sequences ruined by herky-jerky cinematography that makes one pine for Dramamine, CG monsters so derivative and poorly animated that they’re primarily shown in quick flashes, and thus with nothing approaching a frightening or even slightly ominous sequence, The Cave quickly sinks to laughable depths. In the film’s most unintentionally funny moment, Tyler, confronted by partner Kathryn’s (Headey) unresponsiveness after nearly drowning, immediately cuts open her wetsuit top to perform CPR—because, it seems, CPR doesn’t properly work on women unless their cleavage is visible. Yet amid such waterlogged drivel, Chestnut’s Buchanan still has the audacity to warn everyone to “Respect the cave.” Um…no.
Preserving the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 in anamorphic video, the image boasts remarkable shadow detail (crucial for a film that transpires almost entirely in the dark) and is noticeably free of edge halos, mosquito noise, and other digital junk. Audio is equally solid-dialogue is clear and the surround work is good-but bass could have been a little more dynamic.
The two commentary tracks included here-one by director Bruce Hunt, producer Andrew Mason, and special effects producer James McQuaide, the other by writers Michael Steinberg and Tegan West-are pleasantly involved and unpretentious but will be of interest to no one but the film's fans. Rounding things off is a featurette focusing on the design of the film's monsters, an impressive 20-minute featurette titled "Into the Cave" about underwater cave diving that has nothing to do with the film, and previews of upcoming Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment titles.
The Cave has zero sex appeal but may turn you on to cave diving.