I found this bad boy covered in dust and mothballs at the bottom of the Netflix basement. The plot suggested three ex-soldiers “soon discover terror beyond all expectations” in Cave. Those are Netflix’s words, not mine. My expectations are a good rubber monster in the darkness and basic story coherence. Ooh, boy was I taken in. So now you can share my pain, too.
Almost immediately, I could tell something was wrong. The opening scene features some guy riding a motorcycle down a winding mountain road as credits roll. And he’s riding forever. So much motorcycling. And there’s audio of a long phone message over the motorcycle riding, setting up the “plot” to explore the cave “like the good old days.” “Oh, hey, you can bring Charlie,” he unsubtly mentions in an off-hand way. Then the motorcycle dude takes off his helmet and he’s some greasy-haired guy looking like an extra of a local stage production of Game of Thrones. I already hate this guy and I don’t know why. But just look at him: he looks soiled.
It quickly becomes apparent that the movie is dubbed in English. Whatever language they’re speaking has about 1/10th the words of English, because there’s some long conversations happening and the lips aren’t moving. It turns out that this is a Norwegian production, which is comedic because they’re clearly trying to fool us into thinking that this is an American movie. We meet the other two characters in this film, some guy and a girl named Charlie, and the guy is wearing a terrible, off-brand maroon New York ball cap. I don’t know what team he supports, but it’s decidedly not the Yankees.
We slowly learn that the oily Viktor still has the hots for Charlie, but we’re not sure why because she’s a no personality dullard. And we’re not sure whey he’s friends with Mr. Baseball because that guy’s kind of a tool that loves to play unfunny practical jokes. Of course, these practical jokes are the only moments of “tension” in this glacially paced “thriller.”
The movie feels like it’s stuck in slow motion. Every shot is labored, every scene drags along to the next. The experience of watching this movie is like being in a nightmare where time isn’t flowing right. Every movement is painfully slow, like you’re wading through a swimming pool full of pudding, but you don’t want to eat it. And that’s not the experience the filmmakers were going for.
So there’s some hiking, kayaking, and rappelling to get to this damned cave. I’m not sure why they’re going to this cave. There isn’t really a point. They say they’re looking for an unmapped exit so they can finally finish their maps and rejoice. During the kayaking, they hum the theme to Deliverance and the girl spots a figure in the woods. Okay, cool. I’m ready for the deranged hillbillies to harass these boring jerks. They get to a hunting cabin to spend the night. Mr. Baseball and Charlie get it on while Viktor is trying to sleep. How rude. I’d try to kill them, too- Sorry. Spoiler alert.
So Viktor goes to do his business in an outhouse and Mr. Baseball runs up and shoves poop in his face as a joke. What kind of a jerk-off does that? It turns out it was just mud. “Did you think it was poop?” he teases. I’m glad it’s not poop, but I’ve still got mud in my face, asshole. I’d try to kill him for that… Sorry, spoilers again.
So then they finally get to the cave. There’s more talk and endless walking in the darkness. I’d say a good 40% of the movie is shaky flashlights in the dark. At one point, Mr. Baseball has to rescue Viktor from a cave-in, except it’s so badly shot that I’m not sure how they actually escaped from being crushed.
Then Viktor reveals himself to be the scuzzy creep we knew he was when he gets smoochy with the sleeping Charlie, and then pleasures himself. So gross, but not in a horror movie way, just in a “why am I still watching this” way. So then, and this is a spoiler for a really terrible movie. Viktor drowns Mr. Baseball while they’re scuba diving so he can get with Charlie. That’s just cold, because the dude saved his life. I’m not sure if this was the plan the whole time or if Viktor just got fed up with Mr. Baseball right around the time of the poop in the face gag, but it really doesn’t matter. But Mr. Baseball is not dead after drowning so, of course, Viktor has to kill him again, as Charlie stumbles onto the murder. This is the funniest scene in the movie, unintentionally, of course, as Viktor is caught red-handed in spotlight and can only say “Uh…” Then Charlie gets chased around in the dark for about five minutes by Viktor so she brains him with a rock. She finds the exit they were looking for and gets back to the highway where she is rescued by some creepy hunter who hums the theme to Deliverance.
BOTTOM LINE: The filmmakers and Netflix knew they had a turkey that nobody wanted to see, so they tricked me into thinking it was like any number of other cave movies with monsters in them. Sure, the unwashed Viktor is a gross beast, but just not the gross beast they falsely advertised. The “terror beyond expectations” would be me being forced to watch this movie again. Half the movie is flat, static shots of people talking without moving their lips, and the other half is the same people walking through pitch darkness. Pretty early on, we become saddened when we realize no horror monsters will leap out and eat them. Instead, what we have is an uninteresting melodrama between dull, unlikable characters and a boring and pointless cave search where they’re only looking for a way out of the cave they willingly went into. Kind of feels like the experience of me watching this movie.