A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie, short on plot, soon seems like a prolonged jump scene: characters crawl, trudge, and fight their way through dark tunnels, some filled with skulls. The monsters are initially unreadable shapes that eventually show themselves as flying-swimming-spelunking creatures. Violence can be graphic, including bloody penetrations, explosions, and draggings. Characters avoid cursing outright, but do call each other names ("jackass," for example). The film includes tense scenes -- creatures lurking in the dark, close quarters and characters screaming -- that might trouble younger viewers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Dr. Nicolai (Marcel Iures) discovers a buried abbey with mosaics that tell a story of demons and victims. The abbey itself is on top of an underground cave system. Suspecting the cave could have its own ecosystem, Nicolai hires a team of cave divers and climbers led by Jack (Cole Hauser) to investigate. The team discovers a link between parasites and a set of previous human explorers (introduced during an opening prologue, "30 years ago") in the cave. Soon, members of the team start to behave strangely.
Is it any good?
A hectic scary movie about monsters in a dark place, THE CAVE runs out of narrative in about 12 minutes. It is essentially a slasher movie with "scientifically" explained monsters. The fact that a couple of team members start behaving strangely only confuses the question of who will "turn" first. Apparently, the vampire-like change involves paranoia ("I can't help it if they don't trust me," says one likely victim) and creepy pallor ("He's not the man we started with," worries an associate). Fears of monstrous transformation are not new, but the added dimension of evolutionary adaptation is potentially intriguing. The trouble here is that the original characters are never compelling, so you don't have much stake in their changes.
Equally disappointing is the film's representation of space, which you'd think would be a crucial aspect of a movie called The Cave, but it's as subjective and abstract as the characters' seeming experiences. It's like the whole movie has been shot on the Marines' video headsets in Aliens, harrowing, but never very engaging.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters' choices. (As they are largely undistinguishable, their choices seem functions of the group, even when they're arguing.) Some act out of ambition, others fear or anger, but all make typically bad horror-action movie choices: they go off on their own, distrust one another, head directly to the darkest corner of the screen space. How do their actions create tension? Do they have alternative choices?