Halloween Endurance Test: the Cavern (2005)

I ran into a preview for the Cave during my annual visit to the cinema. The preview didn’t necessarily make me want to see it. The movie did get mentally marked as one of those ‘if it’s on television one rainy Sunday I’d watch it’ films though.

The Cavern isn’t it. (‘It’ here referring to either The Cave or a film worth watching on a rainy Sunday.)

The Cavern is one of those low(er) budget imitation horror films that get shuttled out of Hollywood’s underbelly when a (semi) new, or at least recognizable (i.e. marketable), type of movie gets churned out.

‘Oh, snakes (or disasters, witches, zombies, etc.) are big this season! We’ll make a thousand!’

Now I’m not knocking the practice. Roger Corman followed through much of his career. It pays the bills; as the films are usually at least guaranteed a little residual business. Your name as a director stays good too, since no one is expecting too much except a low-rent variation anyway.

According to its cover, The Cavern won some horror awards. The attendees of 2005’s Shriekfest apparently loved it. Makes me wonder what else was shown there.

There’s way too much shakey cam here. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi even admits to aggravating the already aggravating technique to ‘increase the tension.’ Or to cover up the fact that he went to film school for four years and never learned how to compose an interesting shot.

Or create an interesting script. The film’s monster is ‘unidentifiable;’ I guess no one involved in the production had heard of a caveman before. Give a caveman long nails and it’s still a caveman thank you.

According to Osunsanmi the characters all die due to how proactive they are. As soon as one devises a plan of attack or escape, they get offed. This is an interesting pretense to build your script around. Only the motivated will die; the lazy will get a pass. Leaving us, the audience, stuck watching a bunch of half-sacks who have nothing better to do than sit around and worry.

Pot smokers now have their own genre! (Besides the usual horrible comedies.)

The DVD’s extra feature: ‘Caverns of the Mojave: An Expedition with Real Caverns’ is much more unsettling. Those cave passages are tiny. This should’ve been the movie; they wouldn’t have even needed the caveman. Just show some people crawling on their stomachs through some minuscule crack under a bazillion tons of Earth for no reason.

Amazingly, the director’s commentary track bores for the exact same reason the movie fails. I want to hear anecdotes about making a low budget movie. You know, D.I.Y. ingenuity, filming without permits, that kind of stuff. I don’t want to hear about how totally awesome your cast, crew or producers are. That’s the first rule of writing; conflict is what makes a story interesting, not compliance.

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