Sanctum Movie Review

A team of underwater cave divers led by the renowned Frank McGuire have been exploring the South Pacific’s Esa-ala caves for months and are on the brink of solving the underground labyrinth but when an upcoming storm comes up on them too fast, Frank and his team get cut off from the surface with limited supplies and light and are left with no choice but to trust their instincts as they delve into the unknown in hopes of escape and survival.

Alice Parkinson in Sanctum

I guess from where I’m sitting the pitch of this film is based upon intensity and/or the fear of the unknown with a pinch of claustrophobia thrown in for added flavour.  I think cave systems are cool, I had a blast going through one on vacation once all lit with candles and what not but let’s be clear, this was at an amusement park of sorts, in a controlled environment and above ground, let alone above water.  As cool as caves may be and as much as I love repelling and outdoor activities, you’d never catch my ass down in some uncharted cave system in the middle of nowhere, I don’t care if the water was full of half naked mermaids, it just wouldn’t happen.  So as far as intensity is concerned, this film delivers.

Richard Roxburgh and Rhys Wakefield in Sanctum

Believability on the other hand is a mixed bag.  The danger factor here isn’t the elements, nor is it the caves themselves.  The danger here comes from human error and stupidity.  I understand ego, I understand pride and I understand ambition but some of the situations that occur down there just don’t make any sense when it comes to the rhyme and reason of the team’s plight.  Okay, so I don’t know much about diving but I do know that wetsuits are a must to avoid hypothermia, so who the hell cares if the only suit left to you is on a dead person.  Wear the damn suit!  This is one example of how the characters themselves make this dire situation even worse, which was frustrating considering they should all know better.

Richard Roxburgh and Rhys Wakefield in Sanctum

Of course, I can understand the need for such feats of ridiculousness to help further the plot and keep things interesting but this film’s biggest flaw takes shape in the form of predictability.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to give anything away that the trailer doesn’t, but first off you have the fact that this is inspired by true events which automatically means that someone gets out.  That said, the rest of the trailer consists of different people falling, drowning and being lit on fire so you know this is going to be a crap shoot.  Knowing all this going in takes a bit of the edge off and as such, hurt the film a bit for me.  I understand marketing as much as the next guy and love trailers probably more so than the average movie buff but something’s got to give when it comes to overexposing these films.  I doubt it’ll change anytime soon but here’s hoping.

Richard Roxburgh and Rhys Wakefield in Sanctum

SANCTUM has merit despite being a film that’s set up more like a FINAL DESTINATION flick than an adventure film.  Beyond the obvious and the “daddy issues” theme is a smart film that shines a light on a lifestyle most people would find glamorous as they watch from the comfort of their homes, but the all too real truth is these people are thrust into life or death situations and decisions at any given time which has to weigh hard on the mind and conscience.  For this reason, SANCTUM is pure at heart and worth watching.  Now as far as the 3D end of things goes, I know James Cameron’s on a 3D bender right now but I don’t think it was all together necessary here so save your extra cash and hit this one up from home.


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