"We're gonna go deep on this one!" scowls daredevil diver Jack (Cole Hauser) in The Cave, a generic slice of ho-hum horror that begins underground and keeps on heading south. Charting the predictable misadventures of a team of underwater cave explorers stalked by genetically mutated creatures, Bruce Hunt's thriller comes hot on the heels of The Descent, which skilfully played on every primal fear associated with not being alone in the dark. By contrast, this dull delve scarcely scratches the surface.
A prologue, set "30 years ago" in "Cold War Romania", sets the unimaginative tone by having a team of surly fortune-hunters become sealed underground in a vast cave system. Cut to the present day, when Russian boffin Nicolai (Marcel Iures) stumbles upon the same network in his quest to find an undiscovered species.
"A LOT OF BLUNDERING"
"We're going to need cave divers!" he says helpfully, and soon Jack is on board with younger brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian), muscular buddy Buchanan (Morris Chestnut) and the rest of his hi-tech unit. Naturally, all the hardware in the world won't protect them from the slimy winged demons who lurk in the cave's recesses, just waiting for some foolhardy soul to blunder by.
There's a lot of blundering in The Cave, which requires everyone to act completely cluelessly just to keep the story moving. Yes, Hunt makes effective use of Hauser's trademark ambivalence. But there's little else to admire in a generic duffer that's as exciting as a hole in the ground.