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Sanctum (2011)

Underwater scares abound...



The 3-D action-thriller Sanctum follows a team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. When a tropical storm forces them deep into the caverns, they must fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an unknown escape route to the sea. Master diver Frank McGuire has explored the South Pacific's Esa-ala Caves for months. But when his exit is cut off in a flash flood, Frank's team-including 17-year-old son Josh and financier Carl Hurley are forced to radically alter plans. With dwindling supplies, the crew must navigate an underwater labyrinth to make it out. Soon, they are confronted with the unavoidable question: Can they survive, or will they be trapped forever?


Without spoiling the end, there's little I can add to the synopsis for the review. So was it any good?

The cast is a great ensemble. Main leads are Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing) doing his best impression of Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd, and Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four) - both shining, and on great form. Roxburgh's Frank has a son along for the ride, Josh, played excellently by Rhys Wakefield (Home and Away) - a relative newcomer at the time.

Richard Roxburgh

Filling out the rest of the main cast are Alice Parkinson (Bait), the excellent Dan Wyllie (Chopper), Cramer Cain (The Straits), and Allison Cratchley (All Saints). Sadly few have gone on to become bigger actors, with even Wakefield's biggest role to date being the main villain in the first Purge movie. It's a shame because they work well as an ensemble and are all solidly cast.

The direction is intense. Alister Grierson (Kokoda) does a great job world building an area few will ever see. It is reminiscent in places of the beginning of The Descent - tight spaces and claustrophobia. But without the monsters.

Time to escape!

Is it scary? No. It's frightening - empathy brought on by strong writing and great acting. Is it predictable? No. As always I try to guess at the start the survivor list, and I was wrong.

Strangely the film started life as a 3-D release, and unlike most films has translated to the small screen well without the obvious 3-D tropes of things flying at the screen. Which is refreshing. It's a solid film with a small cast, that whiles away a couple of hours with ease.

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