Clumsy direction ruins `Cave'

But the creature feature does manage a few jolts

Movie Review

August 26, 2005|By Chris Hewitt | Chris Hewitt,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Tips for directors of suspense films: 1. Watch Rear Window and Seven. 2. Apply what you've learned.

It's Suspense 101: If someone is in danger, the director needs to cut back and forth between them and the danger until we're left in a puddle of nerves. But most of today's directors settle for rapidly edited, confusing images that push us out of the story instead of drawing us in.

The Cave fits in that category. There's a scene of a rock climber, dangling near death at the end of a rope, that is so muddled we can't even tell what's going on, much less become involved in it. But it compensates for its lack of technical skill with effective scare tactics.

The concept is simple. A team of scientists, who look more like participants at a convention of underwear models, explores a cave that is purported to hold ancient secrets but actually holds a hottie-eating creature.

You'd think scientists would turn and run at the first sign of a dangerous alien, but these spelunkheads stick around long enough to be picked off, one by one (like TV's Survivor, The Cave knows the value of shifting alliances, the threat of elimination and chiseled torsos). Along the way, The Cave intriguingly pits the idea of loyalty to the group against loyalty to oneself.

It's not original, but, unlike some of this summer's movies (The Island, Stealth), The Cave knows its place. Its job is to deliver a few jolts and a couple of laughs and wrap things up before it starts to get too dumb.

That's Ending 101, and it's a lesson The Cave has learned well.

The Cave

Starring Eddie Cibrian, Cole Hauser, Lena Headey, Morris Chestnut

Directed by Bruce Hunt

Released by Screen Gems

Time 97 minutes

Rated PG-13 (violence, language)

SUN SCORE * * 1/2 (2 1/2 STARS)

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