Another Film Review: “Sanctum”

Sanctum Poster

Sanctum“, directed by Alister Grierson and having James Cameron as executive producer, is a thriller (“based on a true story”) that takes place almost entirely underground, in a complex of water and air-filled caverns somewhere in New Guinea. Frank and Josh, father and son, are part of an expedition to explore and map the huge system that is entered through a magnificent, wide and deep hole in the middle of the jungle. 

Everything seems well-accounted for technologically speaking, with laptops and even a robotic diver that follows the humans as they plunge into utterly unknown spaces deep under the ground.  But as with any good adventure tale, something has to go wrong, and it does, in the form of a typhoon that brings in huge amounts of rain through the hole in the ground. (Why they haven’t planned better for this disaster — with a phone system that goes dead — is never fully explained, but I digress.)   This means that our spelunkers are suddenly in a very tight spot, both literally and figuratively.  Finding their normal way out blocked, they must plunge deeper into the cave — with no maps — and hope to escape that way instead. 

If you’re looking for emotional resonance here, it’s not abundant, though the script does try and give us some insight into the problems and development of Frank and Josh’s relationship.  But what really drives the story, naturally, is the courage, fear and obstacles that make their appearance as the explorers do everything they can to get out. If you’re driven into claustrophobia by seeing people stuck in caves, then skip this film. However, if you, like me, like caves — or just a very visceral adventure that doesn’t have giant alien robots — give this movie a try. I think you’ll find it a pleasant and sometimes disturbing distraction.
(Rated R for language and some disturbing violent images.) 

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Written by David


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