The Cavern (WIthIN) – 2005

Welcome back! Tonight we’re going to look at a movie that I consider one of the worst ever made. Bar none. Worse than ‘The Room’. Worse than ‘Monster a Go Go’. Worse than ‘Eegah’. No one will blame you if you choose to back away now.

In the interest of full disclosure, I often watch the Syfy (and I cringe as I type that) direct-to-tv schlock and enjoy every minute of it, bad or not. I like cheesy monster movies. In fact, I adore them. That having been said, I still think that this is the worst movie ever made – or at least a strong contender.

Still with me? Welcome, then, to ‘The Cavern’ – not to be confused with ‘The Cave’, a movie I actually quite enjoy and will be discussing at a later date. The similarity of the two names is not a coincidence, as ‘The Cavern’ started out life as a direct to video release titled ‘WIthIN’ and had its name changed in order to convince people who’d heard of ‘The Cave’ to buy it. Or maybe just confuse them in order to make a totally unjustified sale.

This movie starts out as your typical ‘group of random college-aged nitwits get themselves eaten by monsters’ but never quite gets that good. The bar is pretty low here, people, but this movie manages to sink beneath it with all the skill of a champion limbo dancer.

‘The Cavern’ makes ‘Piranha II: The Spawning’ look like an Academy Award Winning display of drama and pathos. No exaggeration.

So for the summary, all that is actually required is this:

Eight people without a clue go spelunking and the traditional bad things happen. Really. That’s all of it. To fully understand the badness of this movie, I feel I should tell you that it takes them less than an hour and a half to get this point across – and the movie is still an hour too long.

Now to explain why, in excruciating, drawn-out detail. Welcome, then, to the horror that is [dramatic pause] ‘The Cavern’.

This is one of those movies that has pretensions. It takes itself very seriously and expects you to do the same. The first ten seconds or so are devoted to the occasional flash of light in darkness, some music, a whirring noise and somebody breathing heavily. That’s it. I suppose they thought this would seem either suspenseful or artistic, but instead it comes off as if the editor was dared to put together a set of one second clips from a porno about miners, shot entirely in the dark by a camera operator who is simultaneously performing a trapeze act, and attach them to the front of the movie just to see if anyone would notice.

If you want to preserve brain cells, bail out now.

After the flash of the movie title, we are allowed to see that all of this nonsense was supposedly people taking pictures in a cave. In the dark. Why? We’re never told. Who are they? We don’t know. Where are they going now? Disne- no, sorry, they’re going to Asia.

So instead of inept lack-of-lighting, we’re treated to a yellow-orange filter over the next series of scenes; a bunch of people in vehicles riding heroically across what we’re assured by the subtitles is Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan and, the subtitles inform us further, the Kyzyl Kum Desert. Dramatic music and increasingly orange filters accompany our supposed heroes as they drive across the countryside in search of plot. I’m not sure if the orange is meant to convey ‘desert’ or if it’s meant to be some sort of artistic statement, or if they’re just trying to disguise the fact that every single shot is overexposed, but I suspect that the real purpose of all that yellow and orange is meant to warn us that the lighting and photography for this movie is at its peak, and that they’ll never again reach this level of skill and clarity.

As my partner in crime puts it:

“I know that there are some people who can’t watch 3D movies. It’s a thing with their eyesight – they can’t focus properly to engage the 3D perspective or vision, and they end up with a blurry headache. While I can see 3D movies, my experience of ‘The Cavern’ makes me imagine that I understand their pain. This movie is so horribly shot and lit, you have about as much of a chance of identifying the characters on sight as using darts on a multiple choice test while blindfolded and wearing boxing gloves.”

If you feel that we are focusing a bit too much on the lighting, let me assure you that there is a reason for this. If you have ever sat in a dark closet, playing with a flashlight with an almost dead battery, you have already seen ‘The Cavern’. Knowing what’s coming, the closet would be a preferable experience.

Where were we? Oh yes, Kazakhstan, with a group of complete nitwits. It’s still unclear as to how many of them there are or even what any of their names are, so let’s make this as simple as possible with a visit to the IMBD and wikipedia so I at least know how many characters there are supposed to be.

There are actually eight of these people. We’re going to call them Fearless Leader, Tough Guy, Clueless Guy, Monster Bait, Mustache Guy, Cast Padding, Sassy Girl and Good Girl.

They leave the Jeeps to hike along fairly pointlessly and still without any explanation as to who they are or what’s going on. Tough Guy turns out to be carrying a gun. “For safety.” Seriously? Leaving aside the fun and games of the red tape that would allow him to openly pack a handgun in a foreign country, why would you haul one across a desert in order to descend into a cave? Has this chucklehead never heard of ricochet? Or what shooting a gun in a small, enclosed space does to one’s eardrums? But that would be logic, and this movie will be having none of that.

Fearless Leader explains to Clueless Guy, in an unnecessarily macho fashion, that they’re all alone out here, having told no one where they were going, because ‘news travels fast in the caving world’. He asks Clueless Guy how long he’s been caving, ’cause obviously everyone knows this little tidbit, and upon the answer ‘seven years’ he and the Tough Guy chuckle knowingly.

So. We’re caving in a foreign country, miles from civilization, having told no one where we’re going and apparently having included some guy we don’t know and don’t believe really has caving experience. All totally logical, right? I mean, we believe that these guys are professionals and know what they’re doing, right? We have confidence in their abilities and ….

Yeah, no. Rule one when caving is to always, always tell someone where you’re going. Always. This is usually done in writing, with routes mapped out, dates and times clearly noted and all the rest. Why? Because nitwits like these have to be fished out of caves on a semi-regular basis. When no one knows where you’re going or when you planned to be back or even if you’re missing at all, fatalities go from high to inevitable. You don’t even need monsters at this point to be pretty sure none of these people will be coming back alive.

Fearless Leader having thoroughly established his complete incompetence, we press onward! Maybe we’ll finally figure out where these lunkheads are headed and why they are so determined to make themselves impossible to rescue.

First, we have to find a dark opening in a rocky outcropping and pan dramatically across all eight faces. Incompetently, I might add, as half the characters are at least partially obscured. This important task having been accomplished, our yellow and orange is shifted to orange and red and we watch our protagonists hike along single file, with maximum drama, toward the cave opening.

There is a brief moment of attempted dramatic foreshadowing as they all gather together and discuss how weird it is that the light doesn’t seem to penetrate into the cave.

OOooOOoOooOoo.

They decide to set up camp twenty yards from the opening and cave in the morning. I’d like to note that this group of twenty-somethings are each carrying a pack that might weight twenty pounds, if fully loaded – which they are not. Nonetheless, they produce a startling amount of gear for their camp, none of which I can force myself to believe they were actually carrying with them. Plus a set of coolers that apparently walked up the mountainside all on their own, just off-camera.

We cut to jocularity around the poorly lit campfire, most of it about Cast Padding (I think) refusing to shove things up his ass. It might’ve been Tough Guy. We then segue into an entirely pointless story about the Good Girl and then we have a story of Drama and Tragedy from the Fearless Leader’s past… I have no idea why this scene is even in here save to clumsily attempt to foreshadow Fearless Leader’s now inevitable attack of angst at the worst possible moment and firmly establish Clueless Guy’s role as ‘the guy we explain stuff to instead of actually attempting to weave plot’.

In short, Tough Guy, Fearless Leader and Fearless Leader’s Fiancee were all caving in Peru, the cave flooded, the fiancee died. There’s a moment of ‘and he was the laaaast one to see her alliiiive’ which, of course, isn’t meant to make us suspect that he’s going to crack under pressure due to guilt in the very near future or anything.

We find out that Monster Bait is also a total stranger to the rest of the group, and Clueless Guy is apparently along to gain material for a book and… Mustache Guy is also new to the group? It’s somewhat unclear. I think we only have three names at this point, one of them belonging to the dead fiancee of our Fearless Leader. I know Mustache Guy is related to one of the other guys, but damned if I can tell who. I’ll assume that Monster Bait and Mustache Guy are the brothers. So. Five people who know each other, three strangers and, again, we’re all out in the middle of nowhere together to explore a previously unknown cave and no one knows where we are.

Which leads me to ask, “If this area of Asia is so remote and unexplored and unmapped, how did you ditzy Americans know exactly where to find this cave?”

I want to point out at this juncture that there might be two guys with mustaches. I still haven’t seen the group together clearly enough to pick out identifying physical characteristics. I have confused Monster Bait with Tough Guy at least once, and I have no clue what Cast Padding actually looks like. I’m having trouble with Sassy Girl and the Good Girl, and they have a racial divide going for them. Monster Bait and Mustache Guy at least have accents of some kind but, again, I think Cast Padding might also have an accent.

I’m trying to lay off the commentary on the lighting and all… but I can’t.

We’re ten minutes into a movie with eight characters, all of whom have been present for the full ten minutes, all of whom have had at least one line of dialogue and I still can’t tell some of them apart, much less assign names to most of them. This is a bad, bad sign.

The girls go to bed and the party around the campfire breaks up a bit. Fearless Leader and someone else (probably Mustache Guy, as Cast Padding was with the others, Tough Guy was telling the story about Fearless Leader and Monster Bait had to tell us that he and his brother just met Fearless Leader – but, again, I have no real clue) have been huddling over a second campfire a small distance away, and Clueless Guy goes to join them.

As Clueless Guy asks Fearless Leader and his companion about their ‘philosophy’ and further clumsily exposes his total lack of knowledge, the companion opens his mouth – and it has to be Cast Padding, as he lacks Mustache Guy’s accent. Man, this is frustrating. I’m not even sure Mustache Guy HAS a mustache at this point. A lot of these characters need to die soon in order to make this easier on me.

Cast Padding goes on a bit about how caves are alive and… somehow Clueless Guy deduces that Cast Padding is a brujo. I think they mean curandero, but hey. Why should they suddenly get something right? The conversation seems to hold no purpose and, frankly, I have no idea why it’s here unless they want us to think that the upcoming monsters are supernatural in nature. Maybe it’s a last ditch attempt at character development but, once again, all it demonstrates is the movie’s desperate need to have a character to monologue at so that the audience can be spoon fed information and thus spare the writers the need to actually develop the characters or show motivation.

I rather like Cast Padding, which means he’s probably going to be among the first to die. Until beginning this review, I hadn’t actually seen this movie in a few years, so while I remember the ending with unfortunate clarity, the rest mercifully blurs together.

We then have yet another badly lit – er, dark. Yes. Dark. It’s a ‘moodily lit’ scene of one of the girls going off to have sex with one of the guys. Seriously, I have no idea which girl or which guy. I’m going to guess that it’s Sassy Girl and Monster Bait, but I honestly can’t tell. They’re off having entirely-clothed sex in the darkness (maybe in the mouth of the cave?) and hear something. That’s it. They hear something and then they go back to the sex. Maybe they wanted to provoke a sense of foreboding or foreshadowing or other words starting with fore? It didn’t work.

Maybe it’s the Good Girl and Tough Guy having sex?

Cast Padding does some praying while everyone else breaks camp… hmm. Maybe it was Sassy Girl and Tough Guy playing hide the salami earlier? That’s going to bug me now. Let’s just assume it was Sassy Girl and Tough Guy. Anyway, Fearless Leader has a moment of angst over a photo button of his deceased fiancee.

A photo button. What is this, band camp?

He then has a huggy moment with the Good Girl and a kiss, so we can extrapolate that, two years after his fiancee’s terrible death in a flooding cave, he’s begun to move on. Or, you know, given the number of times it’s been brought up or referred to in the last five minutes, the amount of obvious angst and his apparent habit of mooning over buttons, probably not.

At this point, they felt it necessary to do a slow pan over everyone grouped together in a tight cluster as they put on their helmets. It’s awkward, it’s unattractive, half of them seem ignorant of how to actually secure said helmets, and Sassy Girl, with hair that goes down to about mid-back, is just letting it hang free instead of tying it back.

I hope she gets bats in it.

Then they all disappear into the darkness. The rest of this movie is shot by the light of a single flashlight, or the equivalent. I’m certain that it’s meant to be realistic or atmospheric but it is intensely annoying. You can’t actually see anything, it’s nearly impossible to tell who any of the characters are or see anything at all. It’s a movie. I’ve just laid out good money to watch this, and if I can’t actually see anything clearly for an hour of that movie, you have ripped me off.

We are treated to a whole bunch of blurry, shadowy views of… rock walls, maybe? And shots of people who are wearing lights on their head so you can’t actually make out their faces. They crawl along in the darkness until Fearless Leader tells them to hold on. Apparently, there’s a hole in the floor of the cave, so they must group all the way around it and peer downwards as if surprised by a sudden sinkhole in the midst of a rousing game of duck-duck-goose.

They decide to abseil down into the darkness. They haven’t any clue as to how deep this hole is, whether there’s stone at the bottom or a deep, fast-moving river, they haven’t bothered to take any measurements and (as far as I can tell) they’re neither marking nor mapping this little trek in the darkness. They’re doomed. They don’t need monsters for this. They’re so incompetent that I’m surprised they’ve lasted an entire twenty minutes of film.

The Tough Guy declares the hole to be named ‘Hell’s Pit’. I’m sure lots of thought and imagination went into that one.

So they all leap into the darkness, abseiling for all they’re worth, with Fearless Leader first one down. We see several shots of his light on his boots, which appear to be of the wading, rather than hiking variety. I don’t know about you, but rubber swampers without proper soles are exactly what I always wear when tackling unknown terrain. What the hell, man? Something happens that looks and sounds like he falls and crashes into something, but apparently he just slipped and caught himself further down the rope. He finally reaches the bottom and starts staring around – although all we can see is his face, somewhat backlit by the lights on his helmet.

He’s joined by… Monster Bait (?) for a cheap jump scare. Staring around, Fearless Leader informs us knowledgeably that, “It used to be some sort of water funnel and the water drained in from above and funneled out of these passageways here.” How he knows when you can’t see a damn thing and we can’t see what he’s looking at? To make matters worse, the air is full of particulates, so you get a weird, dissolve effect to some of the shots.

Maybe they were trying to save on the budget by only having minimal lighting, all provided by flashlights? They could’ve saved even more by just shooting the entire thing in the dark and letting a Foley artist take care of the rest.

Someone, who might be Sassy Girl, comes down and is helped off the rope by… Tough Guy? I think it was he who arrived up above, not Monster Bait. It must’ve been Sassy Girl and Tough Guy getting it on earlier. (Yes, that’s still bugging me.) Someone starts making … sketches? In the dark, yes. Maybe they are actually mapping their way.

Clueless Guy demonstrates basic incompetence and people glare at him. Why, I don’t know. Everyone is aware of his total lack of understanding by this point, and they brought him along anyway. That makes his incompetence on their expedition their fault. Don’t blame him. You knew he couldn’t tell his ass from a hole in th… hmm. Never mind.

Monster Bait, I think, uses a snazzy looking sorta telephoney thing to talk to someone. No idea who. He informs everyone, “He can hear us.” The audience, meanwhile, has no clue what’s going on. Maybe it’s because the writers couldn’t figure out how to have him monologue to Clueless Guy about it and thus they can’t figure out how to show us who he was talking to or why. Maybe they left someone up above and now there are only seven of them down here? We can’t see anything clearly enough to tell. As Monster Bait was speaking… Russian, at a guess, perhaps they left Mustache Guy up above? It’d be the first sign of intelligence thus far.

I can’t see well enough even to make a head count.

Then there’s a moment of apparent weirdness. At least we’re supposed to think it’s weird. There’s a flicker of lights or something? I actually had to stop the movie, go back, and watch it twice to be aware of anything happening at all. Cast Padding remarks, “Never seen that before.”

Seen what? Why was it significant? What was it? HOW CAN WE FEEL TENSE AND UNEASY IF WE HAVE NO IDEA WTF YOU ARE EVEN TALKING ABOUT?

I need a stiff drink.

Fearless Leader announces that they don’t have any backup lights, but no one seems bothered by that. “Let’s cave.”

There follows a great deal of milling about as apparently they all line up and trot off down a passage. I think. I’m going to have eyestrain by the end of this. There’s an entirely pointless musical sting, I still have no idea why, and we’re treated to more occasional glimpses of people’s faces and some heavy breathing. People are… waving things around? Another musical sting for no reason.

They find an opening into another cavern? Maybe? More shots of dimly lit faces with bright lights above them, and then we can actually see Fearless Leader and Tough Guy (or maybe Monster Bait?) and Fearless Leader informs everyone, “We have drippers here.” That’s… not a caving term I’ve ever heard before. Maybe he meant ‘driphole’ or ‘dripstone’? Hell, he could’ve meant stalactite, for all I know.

These guys should not be trying to use jargon to convince us they know what they’re doing. It’s a lost cause.

More shots of darkness and people’s lights and the occasional glimpse of a face and there is, apparently, another moment we’re supposed to think is odd. I didn’t see a thing, even after pausing, going back and watching it again. Nothing. Sassy Girl informs us that, “This cave is creeped out.”

Oooh, apparently we should have been listening for odd, moaning noises. I still didn’t catch it. There’s much apparently hilarity involving sex noises between Fearless Leader and Monster Bait, which isn’t actually funny.

Suddenly, again for no apparent reason, we notice that someone is missing. How they can tell is beyond me. Cast Padding says, “He was right here.” I guess that means we haven’t lost either of the girls? Fearless Leader crawls back over everyone in an attempt to investigate, I guess to assert his leadership qualities instead of just having the line turn around and move back along the passage, which might’ve demonstrated his intelligence.

Another of those musical stings, light shining right into the camera.. and he finds a dropped piece of equipment. I guess it’s the phone thing, as he starts shouting into it. It sounds like he’s shouting, “Blood, blood!” but a check of the subtitles reveals that he’s actually saying, “Vlad”, which I’m guessing is Mustache Guy’s name. If that is Mustache Guy on the other end. Which we don’t actually know. That would make it Monster Bait who’s vanished, but they were in the middle of a conversation when it happened so…?

I’m sorry, guys. It’s hard to recap a movie that’s almost completely unintelligible. We’re almost half an hour in and I still don’t have names for half these people.

The rope is still there, and Fearless Leader starts to follow it, but Sassy Girl informs him that’s the wrong way. He ripostes, “That’s where the cord leads to.” She says it’s not the way, but Tough Guy informs her that she’s wrong and the cord leads to where they came from. As she was (I think, damn that lighting) the one with the sketching earlier, I’m going to guess that she’s attempting to map this mess, and should be the one they’re listening to.

Two seconds later, Fearless Leader discovers a boot print along the way Sassy Girl indicated and admits that she was right. Tough Guy, apparently feeling the need to defend himself, protests, “Then somebody moved the cord,” as if this makes him right all along.

If you were the one having sex with Tough Guy earlier, Sassy Girl? You have lousy taste.

Cast Padding responds to Tough Guy, ominously, with, “Or something.”

More scrambling, with the occasional thunder of what sounds like synthesized drumbeats, ensues. Fearless Leader finds blood, and there’s hysterics from further down the line at this announcement. Why, I have no idea. They can’t even see the blood, as he’s blocking it, and for all they know, Monster Bait scraped his knee or something. They follow the blood trail along to more ominous banging or whatever from the score.

Once again, there’s a moment of, “Did you see that?” This time from Fearless Leader. Excuse me while I pause and play back to check, once again, if there actually was anything to be seen.

No, no there wasn’t, as the camera was focused on Fearless Leader’s face, or what can be seen of it beneath the glare of his helmet lights, so there was nothing to be seen. What the hell, movie?

Someone asks, “What” – and I can’t see a damn thing. Ah! They’ve found the body, and it’s leaking intestines. It’s Monster Bait. He sits up suddenly, and Good Girl tries hard to get around the others to give first aid while Monster Bait screams.

They leap into action, grabbing Monster Bait and dragging him along the tunnels to the spot where they abseiled down into ‘Hell’s Pit’. Fearless Leader, instead of using the handy phone, starts shouting, “Blood, blood!” again until interrupted by one of the others. Someone noticed that their rope was all in a heap by their feet, having been cut somewhere near the top. As they marvel at this, the body of whoever they were shouting at is dropped on them from above.

There’s screaming and ducking and then what is probably supposed to be a round of shocked reactions, but I can’t see past the glare of the helmet lights to be certain. Everyone gathers around to see that the lower half of Monster Bait has gone missing while they were all distracted. They turn and look back upward – just in time for their flashlights to illuminate a large rock being slid across the mouth of Hell’s Pit far above and sealing them in.

Now. Assuming that the guy dropped on them is the same one they were talking to over the phone thing earlier and also assuming he was Mustache Guy (which is a lot of assumptions, but bear with me), that takes our eight to seven. As it is doubtful that Monster Bait will rise from the dead to rejoin the cast (although that might actually improve the movie) we’re now at six people alone in the dark. Out in the middle of nowhere. No one knows where they went, or how long they intended to be gone.

So we’re down to Fearless Leader, Tough Guy, Sassy Girl, Cast Padding, Good Girl and Clueless Guy. Again, assuming that Mustache Guy wasn’t with them all along and the guy they left above wasn’t someone who hiked up unseen and brought those mysterious coolers from earlier along with him.

I find it highly amusing that there was apparently light from above shining down through the hole into Hell’s Pit and the rock is slowly blotting it out, as they seemed to be a good distance into the cave and in fairly solid darkness when they found the pit and descended the first time. Ah drama, how you always trump continuity and logic in movies such as this. That rock is also covering a hole about the size of two large refrigerators side by side, so that’s a lot of rock. Unless whoever is up there has a crane, I’m doubting it was moved by anything human.

Clueless Guy is showing the only ounce of intelligence in the group by demanding whether anyone really knows where they are. Tough Guy is going on about how fucked they are, to no purpose. Good Girl is starting off a really good run of hysterics and Sassy Girl is running her a close second. Everyone is screaming and carrying on and blood spattered.

A good time was had by –

– no one, including the unfortunate audience.

Fearless Leader finally demands that everyone shut up, shouting for them to calm down. Instead of appearing authoritative and in control, it sounds more like a temper tantrum.

Good Girl is still freaking out, as she feels the need to announce that they’ve, “ – lost him.” Really? The one was dropped far enough that he splattered, and the other guy is missing from the bellybutton down. Or maybe she meant that the lost half of him. That’d make more sense. Fearless Leader then asks, “What did this to him, an animal?”

…?

…!!!

Seriously, dude? Seriously? An animal? He was dragged away from your party, mid-crude ‘sex with caves’ conversation. The rope was threaded away in one direction, he was dragged in a different one, he never screamed or cried out and his intestines were leaking out when you found him. By the time you got him back to the pit, had the other guy land on you, etc – HIS LOWER HALF HAD BEEN REMOVED! FAIRLY CLEANLY! So either there was a guy hiding in the darkness till you were all looking up and possessing a totally silent electric hacksaw, or someone severed him while you were dragging him along and no one noticed. That’s leaving aside the fact that someone pushed your other guy over the edge, and as he wasn’t screaming either, I’ll assume he was already dead, after severing your ropes, and for an encore, sealed you in with a huge boulder. A really huge boulder, as we got a decent idea of how freaking large the pit opening was when you all grouped around it earlier in order to stare downward dramatically.

So. Either there’s a fairly fast and easy way back up that your single creepy murderer took earlier after doing bad things to Monster Bait, and they’ll be back very, very shortly… or there are at least two of them, working in unison. Neither one of those says, to me, ‘animal’.

Who put you in charge of this group, anyway?

Back to the movie.

Good Girl tells Fearless Leader that, no, it wasn’t animals. “That wouldn’t explain the burns -” What burns? “-or the way his intestines are” – What? What was wrong with his intestines? Before they vanished, I mean.

“None of this is explainable in physical terms,” Cast Padding intones gravely.

Yeah it is. I managed it just above. A secondary way up and a half-way competent serial killer with a really sharp object or someone with an accomplice. And a crane.

Good Girl does not react well to Cast Padding’s comment and freaks out. Fearless Leader manages to choke off the shouting before it really gets started this time and, once again, Clueless Guy pipes up with the voice of reason. He doesn’t care what did it, why aren’t they concentrating on finding a way out? Surprisingly, Tough Guy pulls himself together enough to agree.

Now, I would like to state, for the record, that we are just about 35 minutes into this movie. That’s about a third of the entire film. If anyone competent had been involved, we should be only eight to ten minutes into an entirely different and far more effectively lit movie. All the unnecessary little flourishes like the campfire chit chat, the pointless ride in the jeeps, the clothed sex scene, the ‘sex with caves’ talk and the stumbling in the dark could’ve been entirely dispensed with. We could’ve been properly introduced to some people who actually knew what they were doing and, about eight minutes into the movie, have just found themselves sealed in with two bodies. More effectively, they could’ve been two bodies that someone, anyone in the group had an actual emotional attachment to, instead of two dudes they just met the day before.

Of course, if anyone competent had been involved with this project, it would’ve been ‘The Cave’, or possibly even ‘The Descent’.

There’s no emotional impact to any of this, unless you have either issues with dark enclosed spaces or dark enclosed spaces with a bonus homicidal maniac/monster/ghost. None. We don’t care who these people are. We don’t even know for sure what half of them look like. At least I won’t be confusing Monster Bait with Tough Guy anymore. Is the movie scary? Well… no. It’s been almost gory, although in the dark you can’t really see anything, but it hasn’t been scary or even tense.

As the little group gathers itself together, Sassy Girl announces that her battery is almost dead. I don’t know if this is the battery that powers her helmet light, the one for the secondary light or the one for her pacemaker, frankly. It doesn’t really matter. As far as I can tell, they’ve been caving for, perhaps, an hour – and that’s being somewhat generous. Most people, setting out into an unknown cave system, would have a light source that lasts rather longer than that, a few spare batteries and possibly other sources of emergency light. Not only is Sassy Girl almost out of power for her light – so is everyone else.

Ah. Salvation comes in the form of Clueless Guy, who is seeming more and more the only sane one in the bunch. “Weren’t these supposed to last more than a couple of hours?” They were. So they’re only about half as clueless as I thought, which still puts them way down the scale. Just above people who bungee jump without measuring distances and lengths first, but still below people who swim alone in shark infested waters at night. Moving on.

On the bright side, they’re all standing around looking at each other, so I can see faces.

Good Girl states the obvious. “There’s some sort of energy drain going on down here.”

It’s decided that they’ll search for another way out. Sassy Girl points out that it could take days. I reassert that there’s probably a route very near where they found Monster Bait, unless you buy the accomplice theory. None of them seem to think of this.

There’s more scrabbling about in the dark, and Clueless Guy asks what the air current means and Tough Guy chooses now to poke at his supposed credentials. For the love of God why? In the face of everything else that’s going on, and the fact that you obviously knew he was lying from the start, can’t you just concentrate on escaping instead of being a dick?

Sassy Girl explains that the air current can mean a surface route or a deeper cave. As she speaks, Fearless Leader pauses and then tells them it’s going to, “- get a little tight in here, guys.”

Yeah. Maybe if we could see the rock walls closing in on them and the narrow passage that I’m assuming is there and that they’re passing through? As I can’t see a damn thing that’s any different from any other underground scene thus far, I’m forced to take his word for it.

I just… I can’t get past it. I can’t even see this movie to mock it properly. When I’m not confused by the fact that I can’t really see anything, I’m blinded by the head-mounted lights. Augh!

There’s more stumbling around in the dark, with the occasional flash of a face as Clueless Guy panics just a little and Cast Padding is entirely unhelpful. There follows more stumbling and some of what I assume is squeezing with a thankful lack of musical stings.

“Did you hear that?” No, like every other time you’ve asked if we’ve seen or heard something, I didn’t see or hear anything strange, new or different. Fearless Leader makes everyone stop moving, and now we can hear sounds that are obviously not coming from the group, though they aren’t particularly scary or menacing. It sounds like someone rolling rocks down a passage.

Suddenly, ahead, there’s light.

Fearless Leader has everyone be really quiet and still. I can’t decide if this is really smart (thinking of the gruesome deaths of two of their number) or really stupid (as a group that could’ve rescued them passes on by). Given the nature of this movie, I’ll give him ‘smart’, as I doubt, at this point, the writers are capable of any twists clever enough to pass as irony.

The light kinda flickers, and Cast Padding mutters something under his breath probably meant to be prayer, despite Fearless Leader shushing him. Tough Guy starts shouting and freaking out and, as Cast Padding’s voice gets louder, the light goes away.

I’m… not entirely sure of what happens here. Cast Padding is still muttering and it looks as though Clueless Guy is looking back at Cast Padding, who appears to be in the rear. The light was in front of the group, where Fearless Leader is, well, leading. Now – as the light goes out, Clueless Guy hisses, “It sees us!” There seems to be a red light behind Cast Padding, although that could just be the light from Clueless Guy’s headlamp hitting the rock. They all panic – and start running forward toward whatever it was that they were trying to hide from was casting a light.

Hence my confusion, as it seems they’re running right for whatever it is they’re afraid of, yet shouting as if they’re running away.

I don’t know why I’m expecting this movie to start making sense at this point.

So they run, or most of them do. Cast Padding seems to staying perfectly still, still muttering. Fearless Leader, I think, runs back to grab him and shake him as the light reappears. In sudden silence, Cast Padding declares softly, “This cave … has a soul.”

And then there is a grabbing and a slash of gore on the walls and everyone screams and runs away. Again.

Running and crawling and shouting and bad camera angles and I can’t tell if the camera movement is supposed to show them running, or if there was an earthquake or what the hell, but it’s shaking like they’ve never heard of Steadicam and, in a few shots, looks like they’re crawling over the camera.

They finally come to a stop and huddle together panting and asking each other what the hell just happened. Good Girl freaks out because Fearless Leader has blood on him and keeps asking where he’s hurt. He tells them all that the blood belongs to Cast Padding, who didn’t run. “It’s some kinda beast or something.”

How the hell could you tell? Seriously. I didn’t see a damn thing. Hell, other than the sound of the gore hitting the wall in an artistic fashion, I didn’t even hear anything.

Tough Guy takes this moment to ask Fearless Leader why he ran. As if he wasn’t the only one to go back while the others fled. “We just left him there.” No, man, you just left him there. Fearless Leader was still pulling at him when the gore happened. That’s how he got blood all over himself.

“We didn’t leave him, he wouldn’t run. Weren’t you listening!”

“We coulda helped him!”

“What’re you talking about? He was dead! Look at me!”

For those of you remembering the more or less pointless campfire scene and the very pointed mooning about the dead fiancee and Tough Guy’s insinuation about how Fearless Leader was the last one to see his fiancee alive, give yourself ten points and a cookie.

Tough Guy proves he’s a dick by bringing it all up and accusing Fearless Leader of saving himself and just watching the fiancee drown. This goes over just about as well as you’d expect, as Fearless Leader tries to punch him in the face. It’s sort of broken up, while Tough Guy shouts about Clueless Guy putting all this in his book, as if it’s some triumph for him to rub his supposed best friend’s face in the death of his fiancee, in front of his current girlfriend, while he’s still covered in the blood of another very close friend, and basically accusing him of killing said fiancee through cowardice.

Yeah, Tough Guy is a complete dick.

Clueless Guy ends up shouting at everyone, just a shade removed from hysteria. I’d have to say, he has grown very well into the role of voice of reason here. ‘What the hell are you two fighting about, we have to get out of here, we’re all going to die and you’re being assholes, what is wrong with you?’ Or words to that effect.

They seem to see reason and start moving.

I’m going to omit any further gibbering and ranting about the lighting and camera work. From now on, whenever I say that I’m not sure or I’m confused as to events, just imagine the frustrated shrieks and muffled sobs coming from my direction.

I will say that there’s enough panting and groaning that I’m back to thinking about miner porn.

Things seem to be looking up for our crew, as they’ve apparently found an incline and are racing and scrambling up it, accompanied by a triumphal swell of soundtrack… which abruptly fades out. They’ve found themselves in a dead end. I think. Clueless Guy starts freaking out and attacking what seems to be a cave in, determined to get through somehow. Good Girl has suggested back-tracking and looking for another way, but Clueless Guy is way beyond being able to face that. He grabs their drill (which I don’t recall seeing or hearing about up until this point and that someone was apparently just carrying in one hand) and attacks the wall, shouting hysterically.

The camera starts jiggling like it’s attached to a stripper giving the pole dance of their life. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it is the most annoying thus far. Oh my head.

They eventually get the drill away from him, and the girls try to comfort him and calm him down. He admits, shame-facedly, that he’s only caved twice. Tough Guy throws in a, “No shit” and really, man. Now is just not the time. I hope you get eaten next.

The girls stick with Clueless Guy as he freaks out again and try to calm him, although Good Girl is pretty close to hysterics herself. Clueless Guy just keeps apologizing and Sassy Girl smiles and reassures him as best she can.

Fearless Leader and Tough Guy are huddled at the mouth of the passageway that led them to the dead end. Fearless Leader tells them that they’re running out of options because whatever it is (and I don’t know how he knows this) is about to reach the intersection.

– and why is the camera shooting this upside down?

Clueless Guy, still trying to be the voice of reason as he’s sprawled on the ground, hyperventilating, suggests they might turn off their lights. “Because that’s how it found us last time, right?”

Deciding that he’s got a point, and the monster isn’t to the five way intersection that apparently leads to this dead end and thus will have a 1 in 4 chance of finding them instead of a 1-1, they shut off their lights and wait in the dark.

The pitch dark. For eighteen long seconds. Then there is screaming and roaring and random flashes of very, very bright and colored lights. That goes on for eight seconds. Then we get back to the pitch black, though the screaming continues. That’s another fifteen seconds. It seems like a freaking eternity.

Clueless Guy turns on a flashlight. He is then dragged away, screaming, and there are unsavory crunching noises. We get to stare at his flashlight, which is now at the very top of the screen for no apparent reason, until blood starts pouring across the ground, artfully illuminated by his flashlight. It’s a very, very awkward and headache inducing sequence.

The squishy sounds go on as blood continues to flow.

Cut to more running and moaning and panting and clanking in the dark. We find Fearless Leader, Tough Guy and at least one of the girls running and screaming and realizing that they’ve left Clueless Guy to his death.

I have to pause the movie. I can’t see anything right now, as one of the lights (all now brightly shining from everyone’s helmets) caught me right in the eyes. It’s all blue and green spots. Ow ow ow.

Getting back to the movie, there’s lots of screaming and further screaming telling people to shut up. There’s freaking out on the part of Sassy Chick until Fearless Leader shouts that he sees a way out.

We’re back to pitch black for an unnecessary minute, and then more of the stripper-as-camera-operator nonsense. They’re… climbing? Upside down again. I have no idea why. Maybe the stripper moonlights as a trapeze artist?

The lights start flickering and Tough Guy complains that, “It’s draining our fucking batteries.”

Why weren’t you guys operating with just one or two people running their lights at a time? Why do you all have to be running all your lights at all times? No wonder your batteries never last.

…aaaand we’re upside down again. I’m getting seasick.

They discover that the cave is magnetic, well, in some places, and that’s what’s draining their batteries.

Dear writers: Magnets cannot drain batteries through simple proximity. The magnet must complete a circuit with the battery, ie, actually be in physical contact with the connections – or the field has to be strong enough to warp the battery physically and thus ruin it. If there was enough of a magnetic field to ruin your batteries while you were using them as you run around through a cave system, you’d think all your damn belt buckles would be pointing north by now!

They go scrabbling onward, determined to get out while they still have light (while all of them are still running all of their lights all of the time). They come to, ta-dah, another hole in the ground! Fearless Leader wants them to drop down and hang there – why I have no freaking idea. The monster cut their rope earlier when no one was even hanging on it. Tough Guy argues that they’ll be stationary targets, and for once I see his point.

Fearless Leader grabs something and declares that it’s a water cave with water about three feet deep. How he determines this in less than five seconds, I have no idea. “We don’t have to rappel down, we can just swing down.”

How does he know how deep the hole is? How does he know they can ‘just swing down’? Why am I still watching this movie?

Tough Guy takes this time to bring up Fearless Leader’s history of leaving people behind again. Wow, he really is a dick, and one with the world’s worst timing at that. Fearless Leader just leaps down into the water. Unfortunately, he doesn’t break his neck. It looks like about an eight foot drop.

Tough Guy drops down and… picks a fight. What the hell? He accuses Fearless Leader of leading them in circles and says that they have guns, so they should hunt the monster.

While normally I’d be in favor of this course of action, as running has gotten them absolutely nowhere thus far, let’s consider the facts. They are in a rock cavern. Shooting a gun in here ranks right up there with starting up a flamethrower while standing in the middle of a fireworks factory. There will be ricochets and rock fragments and the entire business is not unlike throwing around tiny, India rubber grenades. Next, let’s consider what percussive damage they can do to their eardrums and themselves by shooting a gun in a small, enclosed area. Now let’s take into consideration the fact that they’re running out of light and will shortly be in the dark.

Shooting guns in the dark.

Yeah, that idea’s a real winner on all counts.

Of course, we knew this was coming way back when Clueless Guy asked why Tough Guy was carrying a gun to go caving, but that doesn’t make it any less asinine.

The girls drop down to join them as Tough Guy shouts about luring the creature into the cavern, setting off all their flashes and shooting it. Now, remember, they just dropped through a hole in the cavern floor and landed in the water. No one has looked around, seen what they have to work with or has any idea where this tunnel leads or even if this cavern has an exit. Yet Tough Guy seems to know that there’s an ideal place for luring – unless he means just standing under the hole till the creature joins them and then blazing away?

I want them all to die so I can get rid of this movie and never, ever be exposed to it again. Unfortunately, I still have half an hour of movie to suffer through and I have no idea how they’re going to pad it out. If there were a just and merciful god, it would’ve ended with all of them falling to their deaths through that original hole.

Fearless Leader decides to go with it and Tough Guy wants Fearless Leader to be the bait. There’s an argument, as they keep saying the thing will be there any second, but it’s taking its sweet time. Tough Guy insists he’s the best shot and it has to be Fearless Leader or the girls to be bait. Reluctantly, Fearless Leader goes for it.

Everyone shuts off their lights save Fearless Leader, who is standing up to his chest in water, his lights on, in a cave we can’t actually see the boundaries of. Tough Guy is asking if Fearless Leader sees it, but… if it was pursuing them, one would think it’d have to leap into the water the way they did, and that’d be pretty obvious. Why didn’t they all just stand there, illuminating the hole, and shoot whatever shoved its head over the edge?

Of course, given the way this thing seems to bop around the various subterranean passageways, I’m figuring it knows a fast shortcut to every place these complete chuckleheads go. It’s a more palatable explanation than lazy-ass writing, anyway.

Leave me to my delusions. If I want to try to make things seem not quite as bad, let me. Haven’t I suffered enough?

Fearless Leader does some mumbling to himself as we wait and wait and wait… and looks at his photo button some more. He’s got a gun. Tough Guy has a gun… and Fearless Leader decides to unload about his finacee.

His timing is just as bad as that of Tough Guy, frankly. So it turns out that the fiancee was sleeping with Tough Guy, but ‘loved’ Fearless Leader. According to Tough Guy, someone called Crane “… saw what you did.”

Frankly, this entire bit could’ve been left out. The fiancee thing doesn’t interest me in the slightest and it could’ve shortened the movie by at least ten to fifteen minutes. All this shouting and soul-bearing in the dark when you’re supposed to be offering a single target is… yeah, I can see the disaster coming, can’t you?

Well, no. I can’t see it. For obvious reasons.

Shouting in the dark. Let’s hear it.

So now we’re all in on the accusing and the shouting and soul-bearing and the rest. Tough Guy says Fearless Leader killed his fiancee. “You had her hand and you let her go.” Because hanging onto someone in rushing water and fast current, when you’re holding onto said person underwater, is easy! Someone watching from a distance can totally tell that you let go instead of just losing your grip. They show us some footage but hey! It’s just as easy to decipher as the rest of this movie, so your guess is as good as mine.

There’s a long silence while Fearless Leader stands around being misunderstood and betrayed by his so-called friends. Too damn long. It’s finally, thankfully broken by a huge splash and the girls start screaming. Because that totally helps draw the monster to Fearless Leader, your standing a good distance away in the dark and screaming like that. Thanks!

I’m surprised the monster doesn’t have a view on what happened in Peru two years ago. Everybody else does.

Monster: You totally let her die to save yourself, man. Everyone knows.

That might actually have saved this movie.

Anyway. Screaming in the dark.

The screaming eventually stops, and Fearless Leader looks around wildly, helpfully illuminating both girls with his headlamp. So much for hiding in the dark. There’s further screaming and –

Okay, that was almost scary. Something lunges up out of the water and there’s yet more screaming. People set off their flashes and, eventually, there is gunfire. Our stripper/camera operator is bouncing up and down in the water and… also doing backflips? Or something. Blackness or painfully bright flashes of light fill the screen, there’s water sloshing up over the camera and there’s roaring sounds and….

This goes on for what seems like eternity but is probably more like twenty seconds. Eventually, all is again silent. Everyone is present and accounted for, so perhaps the monster just likes to leap out and scream, “OOGA BOOGA!”?

The jumps between no sound at all and a sudden onslaught of musical score, screaming, monster noises and sound effects would give me a headache, if I weren’t already suffering from one.

Ah, here we go. More screaming and ooga booga-ing and gunfire, and the thing slumps into the water and sort of floats there. People start turning their lights back on. Fearless Leader has taken an injury and as Good Girl fusses over him, Tough Guy (the only one with bullets at this point) goes to poke at the floating monster, he declares it to be, “… some sort of wolf/bear hybrid, I don’t know.”

Given that all we saw in the rapid, strobe-like flashes earlier looked like a deer skull and right now all we can see is what looks like a fur rug bobbing in the water, I have no idea how the hell he came up with that. He sloshes through the water right up to it and says, “There’s no blood.”

So while everyone else waits for him to tell them what’s wrong… it stabs him from behind with something or other. While floating face down in the water. Or something.

We’ll pause for a moment, as I have to get up and do my happy dance now that Tough Guy is dead. I’ve been waiting what seems like hours for this.

As Tough Guy sinks beneath the water, everyone runs away – or tries to, sloshing through the water as the monster roars angrily behind them. Suddenly, they’re out of the water, Good Girl is dragging Fearless Leader along, and he’s leaving a blood trail behind them. As they stagger along we are treated to an entire gymnastics routine of camera angles.

Fearless Leader is put on the ground and Good Girl is attempting to bandage him up. He chooses this moment for an attack of the guilts. “We did it again. We left someone behind.”

Now is not the time. The guy had what looked like a sharpened two by four driven right through his spine. You didn’t leave him behind. He was dead. Survive first, angst later.

Fearless Leader, not content with Good Girl’s declaration that Tough Guy would not have survived, decides to angst mightily about everything. “Rachel (his fiancee) was still moving.”

Dude, she was being dragged away by rushing waters, as we’ve seen several times in pointless flashbacks. In that environment, even if she were stone dead she’d still be moving. Focused totally on his own angst, oblivious to the knives he’s cheerfully stabbing into Good Girl, Fearless Leader continues to carry on. Oh, woe is him.

He says he let her go, or they would’ve both drowned and then that he doesn’t remember, all of this punctuated by another flashback where, really, it looks as though they were both hanging on as hard as they could. I don’t know why, when it really does look like an accident or events totally out of their mutual control, he chooses now to unload on Good Girl and Sassy Girl.

Because what they really needed after the deaths, terror and entrapment of the last few hours is a good round of self-pitying whining. You go, Fearless Leader. You get your team out of this predicament by knotting yourself up in a totally self-centered fit of angst over something that happened two years ago. That’s way more important than surviving.

“Would you leave me beind?” Good Girl asks flatly.

“No,” he says.

“Maybe we should split up,” suggests Sassy Girl.

Because after all that angst, it’s a swell idea for Good Girl and Sassy Girl to hare off and leave him, bleeding and unable to manage more than a slow stagger. I’m all for poetic justice but… wow. That was abrupt. Leaving his whiny butt to be eaten might make life easier for all of us, but don’t you think that’s just a tad cold?

Of course, it’d cut the whining and angst in half. Yeah, leave him. Show of hands?

So there’s an argument between Good Girl and Sassy Girl, Good Girl refusing to leave Fearless Leader and Sassy Girl arguing that the blood and the cut in speed will get all three of them killed. Eventually, they start out again, all three of them and… apparently, they feel air or something? They surge forward and –

You know, I have no clue what just happened. They’re suddenly lying on the floor and complaining. I’d think I missed something, but a replay doesn’t show me anything new.

Sassy Girl is freaking out and… aaaah. They tripped over the bodies they left lying at the bottom of the pit where they first entered this mess. Good Girl shrieks that she thought Sassy Girl was mapping the place, and Sassy Girl hysterically admits that she lost track.

Because through jumping down holes, hiding in the water in the dark and dragging another person along long passageways totally lends itself to map-making. Not to mention all the earlier running and screaming in the dark. Shame on you, Sassy Girl, for not keeping to precise mapping through all of that. You irresponsible thing, you.

They decide to try the one exit from the pit they haven’t tried, while Sassy Girl continues to cry hysterically – and some kind of… faint red glow? Anyway, the monster is coming, or something, and they stagger away, leaving a totally unnecessary smear of blood on the rock from Fearless Leader’s arm, when the wound we’ve been shown and all the bandaging has been on his leg. I think. Anyway, difficulty walking suggests a leg wound, not enough blood all over one arm to leave a long, messy smudge on the wall.

There’s more shouting and glare from the head-mounted lights, and darkness and stripper acrobatics from the camera operator. There’s falling and coughing and … Good Girl finally cracks and they lose the lights entirely as she decides to leave Fearless Leader behind. I think. They decide to try the flashes (because for some reason those batteries wouldn’t be drained?) and, amid a seizure-inducing round of bright flashes, we hear shrieking that they won’t work.

They seem to be working just fine from this angle. I’ve got the spots in front of my eyes to prove it. Of course, if you were hoping to light the room in any fashion, you’re boned, but I can’t think why anyone would assume that a camera flash would help you to see in the dark.

So now we have more acrobatics, more flashing, a camera going in 360 spins and muttering and ‘oh my god it’s in here’ and repeated cries of ‘oh no’ etc etc. They apparently find a tunnel and this discovery is met by screams from Fearless Leader, wet gurgling sounds and an inexplicable bit of red illumination and….

Headache. I have one.

As the monster drags Fearless Leader’s impaled body away, the girls have their lights back and are scrambling along this new tunnel. There’s a lot of unnecessary panting as the camera shimmies madly along to the soundtrack. Two minutes later, they announce ‘oh my god, we have our lights back’. As if you didn’t notice? What?

Sassy Girl freaks out a lot about having left Fearless Leader behind, but maybe he got away, right? Right? She tries to convince Good Girl of this, but Good Girl is slightly less hysterical about things in general and declines to join Sassy Girl in her happy place.

They spy a leaf on the floor and then daylight and start… digging I think? The camera operator has apparently taken up belly dancing or something. The girls scramble out into a tiny tunnel and can see the surface just ahead – but the monster has Sassy Girl by the foot and drags her back down into the darkness. As Good Girl freaks right the hell out –

Now, I’ve spoken several times about how insanely bad the lighting and camera work are. I know I promised to let it go, but obviously I… I can’t. I’m bringing this up again because, over the course of this review, I did a little reading up on the movie and discovered that I’d somehow missed a scene of sexual assault. Think about that for a moment. Missed it. So for those of you who find such things triggering or excessively upsetting, let me tell you right now, this movie ends with all the style and carefully crafted story you’d expect. You can hit the back button or close the page or move along. You’ve been warned.

For those of you still with me, Good Girl freaks right the hell out and….

Look. This is a pretty tight little tunnel. Sassy Girl was behind Good Girl. She gets caught and dragged backward. Good Girl turns to look back, screaming ‘noooo’ and is, herself, grabbed from the other direction and, apparently, dragged out into the daylight.

There is only one monster. One. How it pulled that off, or how we’re expected to believe that it did is beyond me. It’s at this point that I’m going to abandon any attempt at play by play. The end of this movie doesn’t deserve to be dignified by such treatment and, frankly, I’m not going to slow down or re-watch any of the rest of this in order to provide a well-ordered recap.

Short version, then.

Everything goes black and stays that way for an unnecessarily long time. The annoying, high-pitched whine of a soundtrack is back and… it’s still black. Eventually, we pan to a fire. Because creatures that trundle around in dark caves always keep fires going in their dens.

The girls wake up beneath a blanket, sans clothing. They freak out. They decide to escape and, discovering a door, cross the cavern and try to open it. It won’t budge. Looking around in the firelight, they discover their gear. The also discover other things beneath their stuff.

It’s apparently the wing of a plane. Underground. In a cave.

Further searching brings up an old suitcase. I think. They eventually dig out a book of some kind and find pictures in it. Because huddling together and looking at old pictures is 100% more important than finding something to jimmy that door open with, or something you can clobber the monster with when it comes back.

The pictures are a young couple with a baby in front of a plane. They think it’s the same plane. From one wing. In the dark. And a picture of the baby when he’s older. I think? The picture has a date on it, 10/5/80, and a name. Petr. They conclude that the monster got them, too.

They find water and cooked food and start eating. It doesn’t occur to them to check what they’re eating till it rotates on the spit over the fire and turns out to be Fearless Leader, lightly seared. There follows much vomiting.

It’s at this point that I give up. Apparently, the big, scary, can move enormous boulders twice the size of a fridge, be in two-places at once, immune to bullets monster… is a 24 year old guy who has lived almost his entire life in a cave. I’ll pause to let that sink in. These guys have been trapped, stalked and captured by a guy who apparently raised himself from maybe age eight or ten in the depths of a cave.

This movie ends as the monster returns, shows himself to be a guy wearing a skull, a fur robe/cape and presumably other clothing?. He actually looks a bit like one of the cave men from those stupid Geico ads. Why look! It’s Cave Man! All he needs is a big old C on his chest.

I think we’re meant to assume that he’s the child Petr, as he stares at the picture they found meaningfully. I think. We get a flashback of the kid, scarred in a way that I think the monster guy is scarred, kneeling in a heavily orange-filtered forest and screaming. We’re then treated to a shot of him staring into a cave. We never actually see the plane, any crash or anything else, so for all I know, the plane wing is something left over from another movie shoot and the kid was abducted and abandoned in the forest by aliens or the KGB.

Now, keep in mind, this guy was a child when his parent’s plane apparently crashed deep into a cavern, so I’m going to ask the following questions keeping that firmly in mind.

So he’s a cannibal who cooks his food. Where/when/how did he learn that? Why does he bother? How did he manage to start a fire in the first place? (And no, rubbing two sticks together doesn’t cut it.) Why, when he knows there’s an exit from the cavern, does he continue to live underground? Why did he decide, wounded and alone, to wander into a dark, freaky cave in the first place? How the hell did the wing of that plane get all the way down in the cavern – and why? Was he hoping to turn it into a surfboard after one too many afternoons spent watching Do-it-Yourself Cave-Monstering?

Where was that earlier light coming from, when it seemed to be coming from the monster? Why did it change from being a fairly clear yellow light to the dimmest of red glows, and how was the monster emitting it? Or carrying it around? And where did it go? He didn’t have it when looming out at the girls later.

Why, upon returning to the cave, does he kill one of the girls he brought back unconscious and then stripped nude? Why not just kill her then and put her in the larder with the others in the first place? Does his Tupperware not keep human as fresh as the saleslady promised him? Why does he then rape the other girl? (Apparently. I can’t actually see any of this clearly enough to judge, thankfully, I’m going by other people’s reactions.) Do all traumatized little kids abandoned in the wilderness know or figure out as they grow up without any human interaction that you stick tab A into slot B in order to rape people? If he was watching that almost entirely clothed sex from that scene near the beginning, I fail to see how he could’ve made out any details at all, much less made the intuitive leap that such activities are fun and then decided that rape would be awesome.

I feel dirty just typing this up.

How did he get his apparently super-human strength? Were the abducting aliens from Krypton? Is he an escapee from a secret Soviet school of mutants? Why does he moan and growl in a fashion that sounds nothing like anything human in a basso range that James Earl Jones would be envious of? You’d think he’d at least remember how to speak a few basic words if he’s up on how to cook, clean, neatly strip and rape people.

I’m willing to admit that he might’ve suffered a knock on the head in the crash that ate his language and social skills, but that really does not explain the noises he makes or why he decided to live underground and kill and eat people. It also doesn’t explain the invulnerability to point blank bullets, where he hid those big two-by-four things he kept using to stab people, how he cut the one guy so neatly in half, how he seems to be in two places at once or that bit with the enormous boulder back near the beginning.

Maybe I should go back to my earlier theory that he had an accomplice. It would cause some of this to actually make some kind of sense. Not much, admittedly, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

I just… I have no words. Whose idea was it to make the monster a human being? I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. This is so unbelievably pointless and unbelievable that I –

We end with a merciful fade to black through hysterical screaming.

No, not mine. The sounds I’m making are more of a disbelieving sob.

I’m forced to conclude that, no matter what the director or writers might say, they actually had a monster and a plot for this movie and then scrapped it for budget concerns. Some ‘brilliant’ member of the team suggested that they make it all a wacky misunderstanding, and throw in some rape and cannibalism there at the end. Someone else thought it was a great idea and a good role for their wife’s nephew and thus was the ending of this movie born.

I can’t believe anyone would’ve thrown money at this project in the first place if it had started out life with this premise: “Lost Russian kid in the wilderness inexplicably grows up to be superhuman monster who kills and eats a group of spelunkers. Oh, and saves one for raping.” I have seen movies that made less sense. The operative word there, however, is seen. I can’t really claim to have seen this movie. I don’t think anyone can.

I hate this movie. This movie is an embarrassment to everyone involved, from the writers to the caterers. This is, in my opinion, truly one of the worst movies put on DvD and unleashed on the unsuspecting public at large in the guise of a ‘horror’ movie. It was horrifying, all right, but probably not in the fashion they intended. It was not just one aspect of this movie that failed – but all of them, and that’s actually pretty hard to do.

I say this as someone who owns a decent sized collection of Full Moon Direct to Video movies. I say this as someone who not only willingly sat through Boa vs Python but actually went out and spent money on it after the fact. I say this as someone who sits around watching grown men in rubber monster suits make muffled roaring noises as they tramp around cheap model cities and can call that a fully satisfying and entertaining use of my time. I say this as someone who owns Bruce Campbell’s autobiography and hope, someday, to get him to autograph it for me.

This movie is a disgrace to B-movies everywhere. It is a painful, incomprehensible mess. This recap lost any claim to being funny as we got to the end of the movie because I found it impossible to find anything to be funny about. Of course, I also couldn’t see the ending of the movie, so perhaps I should be thankful for small mercies.

Ugh. I need a shower. Next time, I’m picking a movie that I actually like.

– Truth

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About Popcorn Mice

Hi. We're the Urban Amazon and her sidekick, Truth. This blog is dedicated to recap and commentary of various movies in a hopefully humorous fashion. Said movies are mostly of the horror/action/adventure/science fiction and fantasy genres, as that's where our interests lie. Our efforts will, hopefully, amuse and entertain.
This entry was posted in 2005, Spelunking for Plot. Bookmark the permalink.

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