Platform: Encore OnDemand
Starring: Cole Hauser, Lena Headley, Eddie Cibrian and a bunch of other folks.
I remember when this film came out and I openly mocked it on this very site. Actually, that post pre-dated the humble beginnings of this blog. It was on my buddy Slyde's blog. Whatever. Point is, I remember thinking that it looked like a great big pile of derivative crap. Something of a cross between Pitch Black, The Thing and Alien. And The Descent, of course. Even though Neil Marshall's excellent spelunking horror flick wasn't released theatrically here in the U.S. until after this film came out. The general feeling of the Internetz was that this borrowed heavily from that film.
Remember a while back this month when I mentioned that bad shit was always going down in the Balkans in horror flicks? Add the Carpathian Mountains to that list as well. Pretty sure there is a Black Metal band named after these mountains or the surrounding forest. Well this cave-dwelling film takes place in Romania, nestled snugly within the Carpathians. We've got a prologue that shows what appears to be a band of mercenaries thieves looking for something in a remote area of the mountains. They find the scariest old Christian church in the world. A place I would never walk into on my bravest day. Their leader is looking for a cave below the church, and they use explosives to try to get to it. Bitch move. The explosion causes an avalanche which buries the entire church with them trapped below in the cave. Trapped with some kind of growling beasties.
Skip ahead twenty years to the main action of the flick as a group of entrepid archeologist types discover the buried church and the cave system. As well as a massive underground river. So they need a team of spelunking cave divers to handle the exploration. After a brief explanation that the old church was built over the Knights Templar for God's protection over the winged evil demons below, the cave divers, well, dive right in.
There are few things I can think of that are more unpleasant to me as scuba diving through an underground cave system. Pretty much the combination of my worst two fears. Being trapped underwater and being trapped underground. If there were sharks involved, you could just stick an fork in me and call me Sally. But this is a horror flick, so the apex critter involved is much, much worse than a shark. Nope...not a naked mole rat. Worse. Okay, maybe not worse. Those fucking things are terrifying.
As I said, this film preys upon a few of my nastier fears. Throw parasites into that mix. Led to an enjoyable, scary if ultimately derivative experience for me. Certainly not a great film. Hell, it's probably not even a good film. But it picked at some of my more obvious scabs, and that's generally good enough for me.
Beware. Here there be dragons (not really).
Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales