A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.
There's built space of course, but much cooler is when a filmmaker deals with the non-physical: architectural fire or water. Smoke.
And then there's perhaps the hardest of them, architectural darkness. Form of the formless, containment by absence, the pressing in of the absence of light.
"Ghosts of Mars" did a bit of it, poorly, and it is exceedingly rare overall. That's why I celebrate any attempt. This isn't great, but it has some competence and lessons.
If you don't know this little film, it has a long setup period where we have a group of young women not girls, surely who arrange to be stranded in a cavern with a threat.
There are monsters but the threat is the dark. This isn't terrific cinematic engineering, that part all seems to be hit and miss. But it does have terrific pacing overall and that attention to pacing extends to the use of darkness and the various lighting devices they have at their disposal.
Much use is made of the point of view nature of the lighting: flashlights and cameras and even after they are gone much of the blocking uses those sensibilities. Its a subtle fold, but so very effective. It makes us see what these women do and joins us to them in terror.
There's an effective plot device that pings off this. One of our women has visions, which we follow until we have our legs pulled out from us and her. The ending has one of these two endings where we aren't quite sure which is real and which imagined. The idea that both are true is the most unsettling.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
- Aug 12, 2006