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SANCTUM
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Alister Grierson

Starring:
Richard Roxburgh
Alice Parkinson
Rhys Wakefield

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
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 memorable moments.
Video / Audio
Video comes in 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.

Dolby 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.
The Extras
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 changed here.
Last Call
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!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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