>> Sanctum (2011)

Title: Sanctum

Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Richard Roxburgh, Alice Parkinson, Rhys Wakefield, Dan Wyllie, Christopher Baker, Allison Cratchley

Director: Alister Grierson

Studio: Relativity Media

Runtime: 109 minutes

In Theatres: February 4, 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Rating: 3.64 (out of 4.00)

Grade: B+

Official Site

Imagine being trapped deep inside a cave where the only chance of survival is to continue to push forward into the unknown. Inspired by the real life experiences of writer/producer Andrew Wight, Sanctum dives deep into the caves to bring fear back to its primal roots.

Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) is an expert cave diver and is miles below the Earth’s surface exploring the Esa-Ala caves, venturing into never-before-seen territory. He is joined by his son, Josh (Rhys Wakefield), and financer, Carl (Ioan Gruffudd). On the verge of finding an outlet to the Pacific Ocean, the team is hit by a massive storm that floods the entire cave, trapping them deep below the surface. In order to survive, they must carefully make their way through the complex labyrinth, where any misstep could mean death.

Sanctum doesn’t have any monsters or other scary creatures meant to frighten you. Instead, it relies on the natural elements of the cave and human nature to create suspense. Caves can be very dangerous places. There many nooks and crannies where one could get lost, and if you run out of supplies, danger is multiplied tenfold. At the same time though, they can be very beautiful things with natural waterfalls and rock formations untouched by humans. The film does well showing the audience both the majesty and ferocity associated with cave diving.

Roxburgh is mostly to thank for this aspect. His character acts like a hardened army general, determined to complete the mission at any cost. While he shows little emotion or even concern for others at times, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s the guy you stick with when trapped in a life or death situation because he will get you out. The fact that he’s known for playing villainous roles in Hollywood only helps cement your hatred towards his character.

The majority of Sanctum takes place within the confined space of the caves so there are plenty of in-your-face camera angles and close-ups. The dialogue isn’t the best, and there are a few unintentionally laughable moments but the film manages to create this claustrophobic atmosphere. The 3D also contributes to this factor as well. James Cameron is the Executive Producer on Sanctum so you know the 3D is going to be up to par with the likes of Avatar. Things may look a little awkward at first but as the film goes on, the 3D is incorporated well.

Sanctum relies on the natural elements of caves and human nature to provide a decent suspense thriller. Grounded in reality, you’ll instantly be drawn to the story as it takes you deep into the Earth’s crust.

Be sure to read Shakefire’s interview with writer and producer Andrew Wight

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