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Sanctum 3-D


Stars: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Ioan Gruffud, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wylie, Christopher Baker, Nicole Downs

Director: Alister Grierson

The opening shot of a floating corpse is hardly conducive to a feel-good film. And, unless you enjoy the prospect of watching people deliberately killing others to save them from a worse death, happiness (apart from the predictable ending) isn’t a concern here.

The storyline (“inspired by a true story” – ie only the facts have been changed to produce a more filmic screenplay) is simple – a by-the-numbers bunch of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the least accessible cave system on Earth are trapped by a sudden storm and have to try and find a way out through the underground caverns. And, one by one, they fail…

It’s the kind of ‘inspiring’ film that we used to be shown on Sundays at boarding school (minus the four-letter words, of course) although the script twist, which has one of the comely freezing women who is stripped down to her underwear so that she (no, not the audience!) can be warmed up, would not have been allowed at my school. The characters are cardboard, led by master diver Roxburgh whose eventual bonding with his long-estranged son is as predictable as they come) and the dialogue waterlogged. Which, I assume, is more a by-product of genre than a deliberate choice. Here underwater thrills not credible characterisation, are the name of the game.

Director Grierson creates competent claustrophobia as one by one the protagonists find themselves suffering underwater dead-ends and the 3-D cinematography is efficient enough without being particularly memorable.

Alan Frank

USA/Australia 2011. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 03 Feb 2011