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This film makes me very, very, very uncomfortable. I HATE the idea of crawling under tons of stone and debris, squirming my way through gaps in the stone just a little bit too narrow for comfort. In particular, I HATE the idea of all this rubble coming down on me and locking me up forever. Of the batteries of my torch going low and finally ending my life in pitch blackness. I hate to be buried alive. How can anybody be stupid enough to go cave-climbing in the first place? And even more: in a cave that has no huge information kiosks, electric light, ice cream vendors and tour guides being at your side all through the way.

Of course I am right with my discomfort, as everybody will know who sees this film. They really all deserve whatever they get, even though maybe they don’t get anything, or there might not be anybody who gets anything. That depends on your reading of the film, but this little academic questions did not really bother me while watching these incredibly stupid people doing incredibly stupid things in too narrow caves too deep down. (There are, of course, very early hints that things may not be what they appear to be, most prominently a scene in a hospital corridor where the extras behave in a very “Owl Creek Bridge”‘ish , or “Jakob’s Ladder”‘ish fashion.).

The reading of the film’s quality does not depend on the final scene: the movie takes you down into this bottomless pit with the (incredibly stupid, I have to repeat it, who wants to go down a cave!!) girls, and the suffering begins long before some uninvited guests arrive (however: I have to think of “Lost” and the notion that who is a guest and who is an intruder very much depends on which group you happen to belong to). Contrary to expectations, it is not clear at all how to get out again, and the notion of crawling deeper into something as horribly horrible as a narrow cave gnaws on the girls’ nerves, as well (so it’s not just me: they realise they have been VERY stupid, indeed).

Reminding me of the naturalness I have only recently seen in “Wolf Creek”, the camera and the colours take you very close to this little posse of fun-seeking ladies, mostly without the artificial beauty and the overacting known from big-scale productions. These are just some formerly good friends, and they want to try whether they can still manage to have a great day out together. They are all in good shape (“nice ass shot, thank you”, as one of them complains in the audio commentary, and it’s a nice shot, indeed), but nobody would offer them model contracts. Very good casting, mostly.

In the confrontation with their underground enemies, the use of some form of accelerated movement, strobe effect-like and in general very tricky and skillful lightning creates 80 per cent of the feeling of threat and horror. Not so much fun watching that without a strong Xenon lamp illuminating a 35mm strip, but it brings me back to the notion of earlier that whoever claims that he cannot see anything when watching “Alien” on tv has learned a very important lesson in his life and only needs to take the appropriate countermeasures.

The film is not completely beyond standard horror tackiness, with blood-smeared faces, hands protruding zombie-like from earth, a bit of over-acted horror here or there. On the other hand, who wants to blame some twens who got caught in a very stupid underground situation for screaming too loud or glancing too horrified?

The audio commentary by the director and some of the lead actresses has its questionable moments. It’s not very telling from a cinematographic or artistic point of view, and the comment on a scene with a vicious death right at the beginning could be called either tasteless or just a bit stupid. But then again: how many directors (not to speak of actors) are there to whose interpretation of the world it is worth listening anyway? Not too many…
Rotten Tomatoes Overview

Monsters And Critics

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