CIFF 41 Film Review


Morgan Minch

April 1, 2017

​I had to prepare for this one because in my mind, it was just going to be like The Descent, which turned me white and put me in a paranoid state for about a week. I ritualistically do not read about shows beforehand if I can help it, so what else was I to think?
It started like a modern superhero movie, with pristine mountains and an expensive car winding up the mountain road to an anxious utilitarian beat. A monochromatic vision to behold. A bad ass man on a bad ass motorcycle stops to greet the couple in the car, saying that there’s an opportunity to spelunk in a dangerous and illegal cave.
We follow them in the bleak hills as they take a night to rest in a cabin. The motorcycle man, Viktor, seems to have had a brief intimacy with the woman, Charlie, in the past. There is a restless tension between Charlie’s new lover, Adrian, and Viktor. They play-wrestle.
Charlie sits down to talk with Viktor that night on the porch, and they secretly hint at what could have been. She is warm with him, but ends the conversation about her new life with Adrian in a very joyful way. She then slights him by reminding him that he wasn’t in a good place after “Afghanistan,” whereafter his brow turns and his pained mood does not leave.
Viktor makes plans with his father to meet the three of them where the cave lets out, a reservoir, after a day or so. He has with him a hand-drawn map of the cave’s inside, and has prepared the cave-diving gear.
What happens next is beautiful. The cave is a wonder and there is plenty of time for you to experience it. A condensation on the stalactites makes for a dewy earth, and those drips haunt you with false indications of moving, live things. Adrian ranges with a flare, revealing the huge expanse of the chain of rooms in the cave.
Sometimes Charlie is the scout ahead, with the men still muscling for rank, this time by carrying the group’s large packs. They happen upon an abandoned tent, ignoring numerous signs of danger. The deeper they rove, the darker the omens.
This story struck me as containing only two parts, as compared to a well-rounded three. The exposition was slow-moving, but not in a bothersome way. It let you become comfortable. It just keeps developing from there, the three encountering earthly trials. Although the possible resolution spots kept falling short of my expectations, I did end up liking that feeling of desperation for a resolution.
The character development was discrete but superb. Each of the actors had an attractiveness that spoke to the minimal script. The story is designed with a framework that manipulates your conscience, a suspense that won’t quit. My only critique would be how it develops a certain way with the drama between them at the beginning, but doesn’t seem to resolve before building a new focus once in the cave, one more supernatural.