Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
An underwater cave diving team experiences a life-threatening crisis during an expedition to the unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world.
Is it good movie?
Caves are a scary place to be. Simply putting characters in a cave is
potential enough to ensure that you're in for a tense ride. One of my
favorite recent horror movies (and favorite movies in general, really)
is the Descent from a few years back. It had caves and monsters and
ladies who hated each other up the yin yang.
Well, Sanctum does not have any monsters, but it has lots of death and
scary situations. However, it also suffers from a fairly big detriment-
it's a stupid movie filled with one-dimensional characters that for the
most part, few will care about.
When I caught Sanctum, i boogied to it in 3D on the big screen. The big
gimmick with this movie is that it was filmed in James Cameron-style 3D
and this was to be a big deal. I can honestly say that watching this
movie in 3D was pure disposable escapism, and I had a great time
stomping out a couple of hours.
Sanctum is shot beautifully, and in 3D the cinematography really stands
out. There's a ton of depth to be found in the caves, and a lot of
really cool effects involving the water scenes and tight nooks and
crannies in the caves. It was really a great treat for the eyes.
On the small screen, the dazzling stuff falls away a bit while the plot
(or lack thereof) sort of shines through, unfortunately. This isn't to
say that Sanctum is complete garbage, but a lot is lost when you can't
watch it on a big screen, and the lack of 3D undoubtedly hurts.
There really isn't much to the film's small story. There's a corporate
jerk who commissioned an expedition, and he and the team of divers end
up stuck together in the cave, trying to find a way out. The bulk of
the character development comes from the 'veteran diver' Frank (played
well by Richard Roxburgh), and his "i'm not like you" son, Josh (played
by heartthrob Rhys Wakefield). The two main guys are pretty good, but
the scummy corporate guy played by Ioan Gruffudd is just awful. The guy
sucked in Fantastic Four and he sucks here, no exception.
Once the pleasantries are out of the way, the movie picks up a pretty
good pace and it is fair to call this a horror film. If you're
claustrophobic, avoid this film. As a friend told me while he watched
it, the movie becomes scene after scene of gory death once the half
hour mark has been passed. I can't disagree.
There isn't a lot of story to be had here, but there are lots of nasty
deaths and the tension mounts whether you want to admit it or not. At
the end of the day, there are some absolute head smackers in terms of
"why did they do that" moments, but the flick is still entertaining in
a primal sense.
Although a lot of people might sway you hard in the negative direction,
I think Sanctum's a good third choice rental to cap off a rainy Sunday
afternoon. It's disposable entertainment, but it does provide a few
Video / Audio
1.85:1 widescreen and it
isn't exactly stunning. At times the picture comes out blurry and the
color levels seem off since this was destined for 3D. Not the best
looking DVD, but I think that's solely because it wasn't meant for 2D.
5.1 is the order of the day,
but the dialogue is somewhat quite and the score seemed a bit muted at
times. Not overly impressive.
First up is a feature-length commentary from Director
Alister Grierson, actor Rhys Wakefield and co-writer/producer Andrew
Wight and it's really
informative, bright and chock full of good conversation and tidbits.
Surprisingly, a great documentary known as Sanctum: The Real Story
shows up here too and is long and full featured. It runs almost 45
minutes long and is broken into three parts from pre-production,
filming and post production. It has all kinds of interviews and behind
the scenes stuff. Great stuff here.
Finally, a handful of deleted scenes
that run about 10 minutes long. I don't love deleted scenes cause
they're always out of context and don't often add much. This hasn't
Once again, I think Sanctum has merit if you have a Blu-Ray player,
especially a 3D one. It's shot well and gives up some tense moments,
but the poor DVD transfer of the film hurts things. I recommend it, but
try to go as 'big' as you can while you watch it. I'd bump it up a full star for Blu Ray 3D. Hey, at least the extras provide some pretty decent meat!