Thirty years ago in the Carpathian mountains an expedition from the West, unbeknownst to the Communist authorities, sought a church there which they hoped would uncover untold riches. What they found was more than they bargained for, as they located the church all right, but when they attempted to dig deeper into the underground caverns hidden beneath its floor, they opted to do so using explosives, They created a hole, but accidentally fell through and were lost in the darkness below, where now, in the present day, a team of scientists and explorers are trying to map the complex of caves...
Or should I say, a group of male models are attempting to map the caves, because there's not one of them who would look out of place staring into the middle distance within the pages of a catalogue. If you could put the unlikely good looks of every one of the main cast members to one side, which was difficult as there was not even a token nerd to take care of the technical side of things, then what you were left with was one of those monsters in an enclosed space horror yarns so popular after the success of the Alien series of movies. Not that The Cave hit those giddy heights, neither terribly bad nor inspirationally good, simply average.
This means not much personality and a heavy reliance on action which might not have been particularly exciting, but was heaped onto the film in dollops. Actually, when this was first released the general reaction was, er, haven't we seen this before? This was thanks to The Descent, a rather better horror movie, being released one short month before, as that also featured a group of potholers encountering something nasty in the dark and getting lost in the process. That film worked up a degree of tension and claustrophobia that The Cave did not, which might have been down to this aiming for a lower certificate to bring in the younger teen audience.
That didn't really come off, as who wanted to see a bloodless shocker when you could see something more intense with The Descent? On the other hand, if you were willing to put aside your reservations and stop comparing one with the other, was it possible to appreciate this on a purely B-movie level? The answer to that was a cautious yes, as it did have one half decent twist up its sleeve thanks to the origin of the monsters being revealed later on in the story, but before you reached that there was no getting away from the fact that you were watching bland conflicts arising between unexceptional characters.
But who needs depth when it's just a throwaway horror flick, right? Well, that's a fair point, yet it did show the difference between a work that was endeavouring towards the imaginative and another that was simply happy to follow in some pretty hackneyed footsteps. Along with those male models there were two women, but it was a mark of how little enthusiasm went into making this distinctive that everyone was interchangeable, with only a rivalry between team leader Cole Hauser and one of his seconds in command, Eddie Cibrian, to provide any sparks. The conditions in a waterlogged underground cavern are not conducive to creating sparks, so it's more a case of waiting out the teasing "there's something down here!" build up and watching the CGI creatures wreak their havoc among people you didn't care about much one way or the other. Music by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek.