Sanctum Crams the Modestly Budgeted Survival Fiascos
Executive producer James Cameron lends his marketable screen credit and the 3D cameras he developed for Avatar to director Alister Grierson's modestly budgeted Australian disaster thriller, about a spelunking expedition gone awry in the underwater bowels of Papua New Guinea. "Trust the cave; follow the river," warns grizzled diver extraordinaire Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) after a tropical cyclone collapses the joint, leaving him to baby-sit his Bieber-coifed teen son (Rhys Wakefield), a smug and reckless financier (Ioan Gruffudd), and other one-at-a-time expendables as they make their escape swim. Inspired by co-screenwriter and explorer Andrew Wight's actual cave- in trauma, Sanctum overeagerly crams in every possible survival fiascofrom blood- bubbling decompression sickness to "meat-grinder" whirlpools, equipment failures, and mercy drownings. Ultimately, the plot-point overload dilutes any palpable sense of dread, excitement, or empathy, and it doesn't help that all the dialogue acts in service to either patronizing exposition or turgid interpersonal drama (Frank's kid comes of age after learning his negligent daddy knows poetry, and gee, can that billionaire blowhard be trusted?). Even the added visual dimension, thankfully used more for spatial recognition than splashing at us, can't compensate for impersonalized characters stuck under rocks. 127 Hours this ain't.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Netflix’s 'Narcos' Tries to Be 'The Wire' for Colombia’s Drug War
- ‘The Second Mother’ Offers a Sharp Brazilian Take on the Upstairs/Downstairs Drama
- The Predictability of Teary Kids Doc 'My Voice, My Life' Doesn't Make It Any Less Powerful
- The Subject of 'Butterfly Girl' Pushes Herself to Take Chances Despite the Pain