Good atmospherics and over the top acting can’t damage Satan himself.
Despite achieving much critical acclaim in his early acting career and
even winning an Oscar for his role in Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr has
apparently made some unfortunate career choices lately, starring in mostly
underwhelming straight-to-DVD thrillers. The Devil’s Tomb is no exception, but is
at least worthy of more interest thanks to its intriguing supernatural horror themes
and Gooding Jr’s equally should-know-better co-stars, Ray Winstone and Ron
The film starts with a brief introduction to an elite squadron of
soldiers, led by veteran Mack (Gooding Jr), who are often called upon to
accomplish the most difficult of missions. This time, they have been given
orders to rescue Wesley (Perlman), a scientist who has been working on an
important archaeological discovery and is now trapped in a secret underground
However, when the team break in to the desolate facility, aided by a mysterious
CIA operative, they come face-to-face with terrifying visions that force them
to confront their own demons. Along the way, they encounter a babbling priest
(Rollins) who warns them of an ancient evil that ultimately threatens to kill
them and all of mankind.
Curiously, the film is directed by former TV Robin Hood and son of Sean,
Jason Connery, but a familiar name at the helm is unfortunately no guarantee of
quality and, from the very beginning, this film feels miscast and lazily shot.
At no point do any of the squadron members behave in a way that you would expect
from elite and professional soldiers, and Mack does little to seem like he is
in control of them (other than to occasionally repeat in typically military
fashion: “Lock and load, everyone”).
At the same time, the relationships between everyone onscreen often gets
confused, with failed attempts at camaraderie appearing in one scene, followed
by accusations and quarrelling in the next. While all of this goes on, team
leader Mack will occasionally (and inexplicably) indulge in a flashback
involving his former mentor, Blakely (Winstone), that will see Gooding Jr go
all glassy-eyed at the most inappropriate of times.
Where the film’s strengths lay, however, are in the often chilling
scenes of spooky and demonic apparitions that mentally and physically torture
each character in different ways. The result is a claustrophobic horror with
pseudo-religious overtones that is heavily reminiscent of, though not quite as fully-realised
as, Event Horizon. And so, with gory deaths and disturbing imagery, dedicated
enthusiasts of low-budget scares are sure to find more than a few entertaining frights
and sights in what most others will simply see as a formulaic and quite silly