"Violent Story of Survival"
What You Need To Know:
SANCTUM has some very harrowing, suspenseful moments and beautiful cinematography. However, most of the characters are a bit flat, and too unlikeable. The movie also contains a lot of violence, much of which is unnecessarily gruesome. There are also many obscenities and profanities. Finally, although there is a mild theme of redemption between Frank and his estranged son, the movie has a strong, mostly mixed pagan worldview with characters that never rely on God. MOVIEGUIDE® recommends extreme caution.
(PaPaPa, Ab, B, C, Ev, FR, LLL, VVV, S, N, A, MM); Very strong mixed pagan worldview with some anti-biblical comments such as “even God won’t know where we are” and “there is no God down here” as people are stuck in cave, yet brief moral, redemptive tone depicted as one man says that being in this cave is “like his church” and an estranged father/son relationship is restored, one quick comment about evolution, and a pagan shaman/witch doctor is shown in several scenes, but his role in the movie is arbitrary and never explained; 64 obscenities, 17 profanities and one crude gesture; strong and very strong violence with graphic imagery includes several characters are graphically killed by falling in the cave, banging up against rocks, breaking bones, etc., several graphic scenes of drowning, people fight each other, two men have deadly injuries and must be assisted in drowning because they cannot go on, woman’s hair is caught in a climbing clip and it pulls away part of her scalp, man goes crazy and attacks others, punching, man impaled by stalagmite; no sexual content but man makes a brief STD joke; naturalistic upper male nudity and woman who gets hypothermia is stripped to her lingerie in order to be warmed under thermal blanket; brief alcohol use; no smoking; and, strong miscellaneous immorality such as lying, deception, greed, and back-stabbing.
SANCTUM, inspired by a true story, is a violent, yet thrilling, man-vs-nature story about a team of cave divers who become trapped inside the world’s largest known cave system and must go deeper into the cave in order to find a way out before madness takes over and the deadly cave kills them all.
Frank and his team of cave divers are an experienced crew of explorers who use their expertise to go where no human has ever gone before – into some of the world’s largest cave systems. For weeks now, they have been deep into the Esa-ala caves in the South Pacific.
Along for this particular dive is Frank’s estranged son, Josh, an unwilling participant in the expedition. Also there is Carl, Frank’s financial backer, a rich man who craves adventure as a hobby, and Carl’s girlfriend, Victoria, an inexperienced young woman merely along for the ride. However, when a major hurricane hits the surface above, the team is forced to forego their exploration because the cave is filling with water. That is, until a cave-in traps Frank and his team inside.
Now, with time running out and water pouring in, the team is forced to go deeper into the unexplored cave system in order to, hopefully, find a way out. As each new chamber is discovered, deadly danger waits at every turn as the team’s will and sanity is pushed to the brink. As the deadly cave claims victims’ lives one-by-one, the remaining cave divers must battle to stay alive.
SANCTUM has some harrowing and suspenseful moments. It plays on the tried-and-true “man-versus-nature” story-telling device, and there are definitely some nail-biting scenes as well as edge-of-your-seat action. The cinematography is beautiful, and the adventure is top-notch. However, most of the characters are pretty flat, with the exception of Frank, played by Richard Roxburgh. Richard is perfectly cast as the hardened cave diver, and he deftly captures Frank’s battle-weary persona. That said, the dialogue is also very stale in places, and some of the other performances feel contrived.
The movie also contains a lot of violence, most of which is unnecessarily gruesome. While the threat of violence and implied violence could have told the story just as effectively, the filmmakers instead use graphic imagery and cringe-inducing techniques that often induce cringing rather than suspense. Sadly, along with the violence, the movie contains abundant foul language, 64 obscenities, 17 profanities and one crude gesture.
These objectionable elements, if toned down, could have perhaps lowered the rating from an “R” to a “PG-13” and made the experience more enjoyable for a larger demographic of moviegoers. The movie also contains a strong, mostly mixed pagan worldview with characters who never rely on God. Even though there is a mild theme of redemption between Frank and his estranged son, Josh, the movie’s unbiblical, amoral characters are, largely, unlikeable and, therefore, less sympathetic. All in all, SANCTUM is a nail-biting adventure; but sadly, it has a lot of objectionable content that will keep media-wise audiences from diving in to see it. Extreme caution is advised.
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