Fierce eyes, brows that will furrow, hands that will harm, and impeccable posture come together to form the halo of a man who will walk towards you and either hug you or break your neck. These qualities make Cole Hauser ideal for the character of deep-sea diver extraordinaire Jack in Bruce Hunt’s sci-fi horror action film “The Cave.” Morris Chestnut, Eddie Cibrian, Rick Ravanello, Kiernan Darcy-Smith, and Piper Perabo fill out the rest of the diving team sent to the Carpathian Mountains of Romania to chart an underground cave system. Equipped with special scuba tanks that enable them to be submerged for twenty-four hours, Jack and his crew take Dr. Nicolai (Michael Iures), Katherine (Lena Headey) the scientist, and Alex (Daniel Dae Kim) the cameraman into the caves where something hungry awaits them.
A film about isolated-nature-turned-predatory that lightly references Christianity on account of a church built on top of a hole to seal in “something,” and a legend regarding Knights Templar fighting demons, “The Cave” puts more of a narrative focus on the former—a smart move. I love movies about mutant animals, and I have a weak spot for dramatic thrillers that incorporate apocalyptic or religious-themed conflicts. I would not, however, wish to see the two genres put into a whole. I cannot imagine what kind of cheese such a film would become. “The Cave” is not a parody or a tribute to exploration-gone-wrong films that usually take place at an archaeological dig or deep in a forest. If you watch it and get the feeling you’ve seen parts of it before, it’s because you have…in the form of “Ring of Fire,” “Aliens,” and every other movie shown on the Sci-Fi Channel.
In fact, while I was watching “The Cave,” it kept reminding me of a film about a group of people going into underground caverns, running into freakish beasts, and trying to escape through a narrow shaft. I spent two fruitless hours after the movie trying to remember the name of the other one. Nothing was gained from this experience other than the realization that Cole Hauser is hot. He doesn’t save “The Cave” from mediocrity, but he is well-cast. Midway through the film, he has an experience that causes his friends and the viewer to doubt his intentions. Does he really know the way out or does he have a hidden agenda? There’s also tension between him and his brother. Jack is the responsible one; Tyler (Cibrian) is the impulsive and cocky one. Completing the formulaic ensemble are Charlie (Perabo) the tough chick that climbs better than the guys; Briggs (Ravanello) the recalcitrant one; Top Buchanan (Chestnut) the mediator; and Strode (Darcy-Smith) the guy that’s just there, and thus most likely to die first.
I cannot in good conscience recommend “The Cave” to anyone but ardent fans of any of the actors—who likely agreed to take part in this film because they had some free time or needed the money. I wouldn’t even encourage movie-goers who adore this type of film to give it a try because you’d be much better off renting anything from the action section of your favorite video store.