Film Review: Sanctum

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The father-son arguments are basically all the character development you’ll get

James Cameron not satisfied with getting one wet film to the top of the box office tries it again with Sanctum – a film all about cave diving. That well-known sport we all know and love…

Released: 2011

Runtime: 1hr 48 mins

The Premise

Lots of rich and generally unlikable people go cave diving and fail to get back out again before a bit rainstorm floods the area! Time to swim for survival!

The Disasters Faced

Water, floods, rain, getting yourself trapped under rubble, landing on said rubble, having long hair and each other! Generally, everything is bad.

The Execution

Rich people (goes into dream world). You have all the fun. You can go cave diving for fun in South America and experience the beauty of the world. Shame then a rainstorm comes along and kills most of you! Sanctum is blood thirty and lets you know that when one of the cast is killed before the disaster even begins. From there it’s an action-packed ride as we watch one by one the crew meet their maker in new and inventive ways. In many ways, most you can see coming because there’s a little hint of Charlie and the Chocolate factory behind all the deaths. Each character is flawed and those flaws end up being their undoing in general. If it’s not, you’ve just been unlucky! The film runs tightly and cinematography is absolutely stunning. How they make some of the underwater shots look so beautiful I’ve no idea. It’s just a shame the characters (not the cast) are in the main vile – but then that makes us cheer I guess when they do go pop.

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The underwater effects are amazing. The scenes were shot in a tank holding 7 million gallons of water

The Effects

As stated above the camera work and the underwater stunts are particularly impressive. Some of the darkest depths of our Earth suddenly look very inviting to go to. Also big props to the makeup department for some very nasty looking cuts and bruises.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Aside from the effects, it’s trying to predict which member of the crew takes a timeout next. The film is very vicious and includes self-sacrifices and murder. If you aren’t watching someone being killed then you’ll be enjoying the absolutely stunning scenery. The underwater photography is great, but so is the location itself and the caves – there’s so much atmosphere in the underground, dank conditions – it’s a character in itself.

Drinking Game

Have a drink someone pops their clogs for a game, or whenever we get dragged into the rather tedious father/son argument that carries the main duo throughout the movie. You’ll be sloshed by midway.

Favourite Character

Ioan Gruffudd plays the cocky and vile Carl perfectly and while I wain back and forth between liking and disliking him, he is by far the most interesting of the bunch as he teeters back and forth from going absolutely nuts.

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Hold on tight – it’s going to be a very wet and bumpy ride

Favourite Death

There’s so many! I’ll go with Luko’s long drawn out double death early on who is eventually left with such bad injuries from a very nasty fall it’s left to our leader to drown him to ease his pain… charming!

Weirdest Moment

I may have blinked and missed it but where on Earth did Liz and JD go? It’s like they go off in a separate area, we see them struggling on a rope line but then it never returns back to them again. Did they live or die? Or did I miss them perish when I was pouring my next drink?

Random Trivia

Ioan Gruffudd is clearly an adrenaline junkie. He did his own base jump in the film and was also a qualified diver before the film itself.

Conclusion

Sanctum is full of thrills and spills. The limited character development in such a compact film is to be expected but the actors do a good job even if the characters come across as brats at times. I was not surprised by the ending but enjoyed my journey there. Just be grateful the bath has a plug!

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