Who's In It: Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Daniel Wylie, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson
The Basics:Some spelunkers get stuck in a miles-deep cave. It's a dead-end-filled, flooded thing that's so terrifyingly pitch black, twisty and claustrophobia-inducing that it mostly feels like they're all trying to squeeze themselves through an enormous, rock-based lower intestine. And that's the point, of course. They are all--or most of them, anyway--completely doomed. And because it stars a lot of Australian actors you might not even recognize (as well as Ioan Gruffudd), you have no idea which ones are going to drown (or worse) first.
What's The Deal: The worst components of this survival adventure, the stuff that'll make you wonder why you bothered buying a ticket--the dopey shouted dialogue, the seen-it-before father/son anger dynamic, the predictable one-by-one elimination of increasingly significant actors--are secondary to the sub-level Poseidon Adventure-style tension. That element is kept afloat with cool camerawork, lots of strenuous physicality and some really convincing replica cave sets. You get just enough of all that to keep yourself into what happens next and having a decent time. You'll barely think about how everything else on screen is mostly terrible. At least until after you leave the theater.
The Part Where It Gets Sort of 127 Hours-Ish: One of the characters is forced into a do-or-die situation that will make a lot of audience members wince and/or look away. It would be great if that gruesome stunt also involved a level of concern for the person it happens to, but it doesn't. So to invoke the character-based 127 is a little hyperbolic, I admit. You'll care about as much as you do when someone gets torn apart in a Saw sequel.
The Part Where The Monsters from The Descent Show Up: They don't. Not knowing anything about this movie going in besides its cave setting, I arrived equipped with fond memories of that very cool creepshow. And I assumed, wrongly, that they'd all stumble across some kind of eat-your-face creature from prehistory. So if your imagination runs that direction like mine usually does, you can set that expectation aside.
The Part Where You Realize That The Badass Cave Guy Is the Same Actor Who Played the Prissy, "Like a Virgin"-singing Duke In Moulin Rouge
His name is Richard Roxburgh. He's a big star in Australia. Not so big in the U.S. And he is at least 50% chameleon. In fact, I confess that I had to be told afterward that he was the same person. And no, he doesn't sing here.