Any diving enthusiast will tell you that it is hard to make a good film about diving. Sanctum is a film that falls a little short of the mark. It is based on the co-writer’s experiences of being trapped in the Nullabor Plain in 1988, which was documented in the film Nullabor Dreaming (something to watch later perhaps).
The film is about a group of cave divers who are exploring a system in Papa New Guinea. Unfortunately, due to a weather front that arrives early they become trapped in the cave as it starts to fill with water. Unable to exit they decide to dive deeper into the cave looking for an exit. Eventually, after the majority of the cast have died, an exit is found.
Richard Roxburgh’s character, Frank McGuire, is a millionaire who is the expedition leader. He has a very black and white view of life. People make choices and we shouldn’t feel bad because they made the wrong choice as it was their choice to make. His character is also very aggressive and cold. The remainder of the characters in the film follow the similar stereotypes that you would expect in this type of film: the son who misunderstands his father, the girlfriend who ignores all advice given to her, the boyfriend who loses all sense, the list goes on. So don’t look for fantastic character development in this film.
The action is quite fast paced and the diving terminology is fairly accurate. The divers are using rebreathers, which makes sense in the context of cave diving. The cinematography is fantastic. Definitely worthwhile to watch for that.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, but at times I found the plot predictable and the characters were one-dimensional. Is it anything like the story it is based on? Yes and no, basically the only difference is that the people sat tight for 27 hours and then were rescued. So if you want to see what cave diving could be like, with disasters, then go and give it a watch. Otherwise just miss it out.
A brief news report on the original incident.