Sanctum is a decent way to spend two and a quarter hours underground, and, if you have to be there, Rhys Wakefield, who stars young Josh, is not at all a bad looking guy to be looking at.  Considering there are only six or so characters at the beginning of the movie, dwindling down to Josh only at the end, he’d better be decent looking if you’re going to be spending that kind of time.  And he can act too.  A 22 year old Australian, he has been acting for the last eleven years.   There are some vaguely interesting if predictable human dynamics (father – son tension, disbelief at how unemotionally Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), Josh’s father and lead caver, deals with the deaths of his fellow cavers), and some spectacular above and underground scenery, and a few teeth gritting moments, but not a lot after that.

The premise, apparently based on a true story, is quite simple.  Frank, caver and diver extraordinaire, is joined by his competent albeit somewhat reluctant son, and some near incompetents (Frank’s sponsors), hoping to capture some cute shots for National Geographic, in exploring the Esa-Ala cave in Papua New Guinea.  A wicked storm comes in and the underground rivers begin flooding, shoving a boulder in the mouth of the cave through which they entered.  Under Frank’s unforgiving guidance they push on, attempting to follow the river downstream to the ocean.  Everybody dies off one by one through some sort of mishap, accidental or otherwise.  Son Josh is the sole survivor, and somehow manages the last couple of hundred meters or so without oxygen or light, sucking breaths of air from what little is trapped on the roof of the cave itself, until he emerges from the ocean into bright sunlight.

The film was produced by Canadian James Cameron, of Titanic, Aliens, and Avatar fame, and directed by Alister Grierson, another Australian.  Grierson has made fifteen short films and won three Tropfest awards, and co-wrote and directed the feature film Cocoda.  Available in 3D, but please don’t bother yourself with the 3D, see it in 2D.  With uncomfortable and often dirty glasses, it’s a silly technology which already came and went once in the fifties, so why did it have to come back again anyhow?  If you like gritting your teeth while people nearly kill themselves in dangerous situations this film is a good one for you.


Sources:  Wikipedia  (