Entertainment, Reviews

Sanctum, Sinks to Watery Grave

Breathtaking cinematography, expansive choreographed scuba diving and a story about a father/son relationship are the basis for seeing the film Sanctum.  If any of these elements tantalize you then this film should be your entertainment choice.

Rhys Wakefield and Richard Roxburgh play son and father in Sanctum

The film centers on experience cave diver Frank McGuire (Roxburgh) who has been exploring the Esa-ala Caves for an extended period of time.  His backer Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd) has joined Frank with hopes in finding a spectacular chamber in order to boost support for the project.  Frank’s 17-year-old son Josh (Wakefield) has been leading the support team on the surface, but at the bequest of Hurley the two join Frank inside of the cave.  When a huge storm converges over the cavern entrance causing a flash flood the team gets trapped in the caves with no way out.

The actual true event that inspired scriptwriter AndrewWight to write this screenplay is personal.  In 1988 he lead an expedition to explore and dive into a remote cave system hidden beneath the Nullarbor Plain in Australia where he and 14 others became trapped in the cave following a storm that collapsed the entrance.  Incredibly the expedition was rescued saving all from possible death.

Underwater film crew films scene in Sanctum

The mastery of this film comes in the form of cinematography taking the audience into a labyrinth of caves, underwater diving and treacherous rock climbing.  Close up photography shows the ordeal the actors went through to make the film believable and suspenseful.  The incredible underground filmmaking provides the viewer the only reason why Sanctum entertains.

The storyline takes a simple coming-of-age father-son conflicting relationship and intertwines it within the death defying challenge to escape the confines of the underground prison in which they find themselves.  The damaging elements in the film are the other characters that seem to be more distracting than supportive to the main plot.  Not like in the movie The Poseidon Adventure where each of the characters played off each other in ‘lead roles’, Sanctum’s supports are just pawns to show how death could happen at any turn within the threatening cave.

The film is rated R for language, some violence and disturbing images, but could have easily been a PG-13 were it not for the use of the ‘F’ word beyond the limit allowed by the MPAA.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  An average chiller and cheep thriller.  (C-)

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 11 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com