A disaster movie come survival thriller, Sanctum is worth diving into.
A disaster movie come survival thriller Sanctum is
worth diving into.
Normally when you
see a director lend his name so heavily to another person’s film it spells
disaster. After all why would you need James
Cameron’s credit above the title if your film had a good enough premise to
sell of its own accord. Thankfully Sanctum’s ‘From Executive Producer James
Cameron’ appears to be nothing more than a seal of approval regarding its use
of 3D. The reality is that on the home format, without the gimmicky technology,
Sanctum is a thoroughly enjoyable survival thriller that bears more in relation
to Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) than
his Blue-skinned 3D extravaganza.
cave diving team find themselves trapped thanks to a flash flood sealing their
only exit. With the water rising team leader Frank (Roxburgh) must guide his son Josh (Wakefield) and colleagues through a cave system that has never been
seen by man. But as the pressure grows to see daylight the group will begin to
fracture making matters increasingly more dangerous.
While the early
establishing scenes of the vast entrance to the cave feel reminiscent of
Cameron’s Avatar planet Pandorum, it
is when we enter the cave, and more importantly the water, that his name
becomes relevant. Once in the darkness the tension of running out of air and
space to move immediately brings back memories of The Abyss.
Director Grierson does a solid job of gradually
racking up the tension making you care for some characters while resenting
others. An early scene sees Frank have to sacrifice a teammate in order for him
to stay alive. In doing so we are reliably informed that in the caves doing
what has to be done is the only way to survive. With this is mind anyone is fair
game, if there was a plucky dog he would be in just as much peril.
and caving exploits are handled well and you certainly get a great sense of
claustrophobia from Grierson’s style. The only problem will be for those who
have seen Neil Marshall’s The Descent (2005) as there is an
inclination to wonder when the monsters are going to appear. They don’t for
those getting their hopes up, this is strictly a human based drama but works
well for what it sets out to do.
At times the
ongoing squabble between Frank and his son Josh grows a little tiresome but the
film rattles from set piece to narrow escape with fun intensity. There is the
occasional disaster movie cliché to be forgiven, such as one character going
psychotic in his need to live, but the journey is the destination and this one
does exactly what is expected of it.
A by the numbers
disaster come survival thriller, Sanctum ticks all the right boxes at all the
right times. Not a film that will live long in the memory but certainly a journey
into the deep worth taking. Jump in,
hold your breath and pray you find Sanctum.