Right off the bat, I feel like the devil is trying to convince us it’s going to be good stuff. The credits roll over scenes from the movie, much the way a syndicated adventure show credits would… Like they’re trying to assure us that there’s something good in store, despite the cheap cover art.
We have a group of men exploring a cave, but it’s not going well. Things get even more sinister when they find a chamber but obviously man-made… And filled with bones. He’s located the relic he’s looking for, but at what cost? The whole thing actually gives me very Stephen M Smith vibes… And that’s interesting. There’s a definite for boating here, and things start to go very wrong very quickly as figures appear in the cave, and people begin to die. You don’t need to tell Dude twice. He is out of there!
At least, he’s getting out long enough to resupply and mount another expression… This doesn’t go over well with the wife, but he’s desperate to get back there, so he can break a curse on the family. Even as he argues with the wife on the phone, the demons send a heart attack his way and he crashes the car in the ER, the demons watch.
They look good too… Someone spent some serious money on these outfits, and having a bunch of them around, with their dead, black eye sockets almost gives me a blind dead feeling. They may be just a little bit too proud of them though, as they’re constantly showing them in full light, and Wall and make up holds up, too much time just standing around on screen does sort of push your suspension of disbelief.
Back from a heart attack, the vision continue there’s almost no attempt to make this into a bit of a head trip keeping your balance and throwing strange imagery at you. I’m not complaining, considering I came into this thing mostly for monsters… And William Shatner. However, the trippiness comes off almost as intrusive and repetitive rather than leaving you off-balance. Still, strange looks from the people around our hero and the general sense of unease in the air manages to set up an effectively paranoid mood. All the people around him shift in an out of being avatars for the demonic.
Time to go talk to dad. Shatner, at his horse farm. He explains that for long time, the Rockies trying to make him find his only way to break the curse… And the fact that he didn’t destroy it… But he just disturbed the relic… It kind of just pissed everything off.
So now it’s time to go back to the cave… This time he’s bringing his entire family
This is kind of where it falls apart me. I realize we’re heading into the third act, and this is kind of their way of raising the stakes, but it really doesn’t make sense. And as we see him wandering through the cave with his family, it’s almost like a spelunking vacation. “Look at this!”… “Let me tell you stories about how this happens”… It belies the seriousness of the mission and undermines the gravitas of question through hostile territory to break the curse. Moreover, even as our Aztec ghosts make their way to confront our family I am unconvinced that any carnage is gonna happen here… Maybe the dad could die, but I can’t believe anyone is in any real jeopardy. I can’t see that working thematically. It also feels like we’re in a pattern of running away from this cave and coming back and running away and coming back. It feels redundant and repetitive, but then again so there’s a lot of this film.
Another big problem is the lighting. The entire thing is just looks so flat… And as I mentioned, these suits are frequently shown and fully lit. That does nothing for their effectiveness. Director Jared Cohen really needs to move past his TV movie roots for something like this and light everything just for the sheer beauty of it. Creating more room in the caves and playing with the shadows and ridges on these excellent suits would go a long way towards creeping up these monsters. I give them props for understanding how to enhance the suits with CGI, adding some motion to the mandibles, and creating just enough glow and smoke to make them fantastic. On the other hand,that he’s using the same old cgi blood packs is painfully obvious, and he’s all about bad CG explosions. That works once, maybe twice, and in the distance… but they look really bad here, up close, front and center.
The real shame of all of this is there’s a good idea here. A good story somewhere, but it needs a lot of work. The pacing all over the place, fast where it needs to be slow, and slower it needs to be fast. The movie itself is about 20 minutes too long, and focused on the wrong things I think. All of the family drama really should’ve been background, with the movie itself focus more on the cave expedition and heightening the whore there. Some flashbacks to the plot exposition and curse may have worked better… And perhaps a longer, slower descent as the hauntings grow and drive our characters to find the relic would’ve been more effective.
It might be fun if you just turn your brain off to watch a rubber suit monster movie with William Shatner, but I’m disappointed because it really could’ve been so much more.