We hadn’t heard much about The Cave before renting it. We’d seen a preview or two back when it was released in theaters, but hadn’t heard any buzz about it since. So, when it hit DVD a few months later, it wasn’t a real big deal. However, we decided to rent it anyway, just to see if it was any good. Surprise, surprise…nothing much pulls this Alien rip-off above the rest of it’s kind.
The characters in The Cave all seemed rather one-dimensional, giving the actors very little room to try to expand on them. A few familiar faces pop up, notably Morris Chestnut, Cole Hauser and Coyote Ugly‘s Piper Perabo.
Morris Chestnut and Cole Hauser do a good job with what they’re given, with Cole Hauser getting the juicier of the 2 roles. Piper Perabo seems to have taken some testosterone shots since Coyote Ugly, since she seems much more manly in this film. Sadly, another film role for her doesn’t work out any better than the first did, so it’s a good thing her acting isn’t really needed to keep the viewer’s interest in this film.
The Cave uses a tried and true Alien rip-off formula, although the setting is somewhat different. Rather than taking place on a hostile otherworld somewhere, the filmmakers decide to go to the nearest hostile land they could find – straight down. While the confines and constraints of being trapped underground with horrific creatures does help keep the tension high, it’s quite obvious early on that special effects weren’t going to be the deciding factor in this film.
The lack of lighting is overused to try to invoke a deeper sense of terror for the audience, but ends up coming out as rather uninteresting – after all, a viewer can only stare at a flashlight beam in the distance on-screen for so long, no matter what sounds are coming out of the speakers. Low-lighting used to be a trend, since it covered up the lack of decent special effects. Nowadays, it’s used most effectively when the lighting is bright – but just beyond the creature/monster/animal that is attacking.
Although the lack of lighting is used to hide the monsters throughout most of The Cave (so thoroughly that the viewer may need to rewind the film to try to figure out what the heck is happening to some of the characters), the monsters are finally revealed near the end of the film – and they come out looking like a creature you’ve seen before – some like an almost exact replica of the mutant creature from , while others look like giant bats. A lot of build-up for what amounts to be a rerun.
With the extreme lack of lighting throughout most of the film, most viewers probably won’t wait until the creatures are revealed. Unfortunately, if they do end up sticking around that long, viewers won’t be too impressed – it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.
While the claustrophobics among us will get an extra chill as the actors crawl through impossibly tight spaces, the rest of The Cave isn’t worth much more than any other Alien rip-off.