Caved-In: Prehistoric Terror (2006)

Caved-In: Prehistoric Terror (2006)

The ultimate threat. The gravest danger. Hidden in the earth.

Disguised as extreme adventurers, a group of thieves hire a caving expert to take them into an old mine in Switzerland which was shut down years earlier after a mysterious cave in. The thieves are looking for a hidden cavern full of emeralds but what they find there is a horde of hungry giant beetles.

 

Another Sci-Fi Channel production which has a kick ass DVD cover and sounds like a bit of fun, Caved In: Prehistoric Terror turns out to be more painful than having a tooth removed. I know recycling is good for the environment but someone needs to tell filmmakers that recycling films will not help the ozone layer any time soon. Caved In: Prehistoric Terror comes off as a really bad cross between The Descent and Starship Troopers….and a really bad one at that.

Things don’t look promising from the start when you’re given the back story to the mine and some not-very-good actors get sliced and diced by some even worse-looking beetles. Note to the director: If you’re going to kick things off by showing how bad your monsters are, then there’s no hope for the rest of the film. The miners could have easily been killed without revealing the beetles so early on and so the film wastes it trump card within the first five minutes. By now, you’re already too depressed knowing that you’ve got to suffer through another eighty minutes and worry that things won’t get any better. Believe me, they get somehow worse.

We’re introduced to the team of thieves. We know they’re bad guys because they’re foreign and one of them is bald with a goatee. They’ve got to be evil. We then move to the caving expert and his family, one of the least believable families I’ve seen for a long time, helmed by Christopher Atkins who seems to have a life sentence with the Sci-Fi Channel. Needless to say that putting all of these combustible characters together doesn’t make for pretty viewing, especially when none of them do anything straightforward. The main villain, Marcel, continues to make ridiculous mistakes which only hamper their efforts to get out alive. He only too willingly kills his men for dramatic effect when he should realise that seven people versus a horde of giant bugs is better than four. All the characters seem to do is run, shoot the bugs and run a bit more. Repeat this for about sixty minutes and you have the bulk of the film.

The bugs look bad, as I’ve already mentioned. How, why and what they are doing isn’t really important in a film like this – the fact that they are here is what matters. Arguably the worst-looking effects are the sets. We find out that, in a convenient state of affairs, the power to the mine still works so everything is lit up. However the sets are too well lit and it’s like walking in the daylight sun at times. Whatever happened to underground caves being pitch black? You never get the feeling they’re trapped underground – simply trapped in a second-rate set. Hell even The Cave managed to create some decent tension with its dark sets. If you’re going to have your film set in an old mine, at least make it look and sound like an old mine. There are a few rickety wooden boards but this looks like it was only closed yesterday, not fifty years or whatever it’s supposed to be.

On the positive side, the film does get quite gruesome at times. There are characters that get sliced in two and having their insides ripped out. And quite what Colm Meaney is doing here is anyone’s guess. The man is a decent actor who built himself a name on Star Trek and has found solid supporting work for a long time in lots of British and Irish films. The bad guys all snarl and blur into one caricature, with David Palffy being the worst of the bunch with his ‘Bad Guys for Dummies’ impression.

 

The commercial asks “What’s the only thing worse than being trapped inside a cave with huge bugs?” My answer: watching Caved In: Prehistoric Terror. I think someone was warning us ahead of time.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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