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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

In Darkness We Fall (aka La cueva) movie review (London Film Festival)

In Darkness We Fall La cueva yellow light

An effective mood of claustrophobia cannot overcome the fact that you’ve seen this all before, and better.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): I’m getting tired of found-footage flicks

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A bunch of Spanish 20somethings — two girls and three guys — head to a remote island for a camping getaway. One of them has brought along his videocamera, so he can post stuff to his blog later, and at first it’s all drunken idiocy round the campfire and some “hilarious” sneaking up on in-tent sexytimes. But then one of them finds a cave entrance and is all, “Hey, guys, let’s explore the depths of this subterranean maze without any equipment whatsoever except a couple of flashlights!” Soon enough, they’re lost, with no idea which way the surface is. There’s nothing supernatural going on here, just an ever increasing dread as they wander, or more frequently crawl, through puddles and over razor-sharp rocks, and director Alfredo Montero — who cowrote the script with Javier Gullón (Enemy) — effectively creates an atmosphere of physical claustrophobia and psychological terror as friendships fray in the dark and stress and fear brings out the worst in everyone. But you’ve seen this all before, and the mood is overwhelmed by an eventual cheating of the found-footage conceit and a self-awareness that does not excuse its clichés.

viewed during the 58th BFI London Film Festival


In Darkness We Fall (La cueva) (2014)
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.
  • Beowulf

    People in horror movies have never seen horror movies. “Let’s all split up and search for the masked killer…”
    Since you’re still musing about “Gone Girl,” let me say that I might see the film despite the novel’s ending. I’m now completely broken of my habit of getting halfway through a modern novel and deciding I love the author and ordering at least one more of her or his books. The Cloud Nine guy, the Whiskey Tango guy, and GG have soured me with their novels’ (pick one that fits) a) non endings b) bizarre endings C) pointless endings.

  • People in horror movies have never seen horror movies.

    Actually, here, the self-awareness I mentioned comes in the form of someone saying, as they’re entering the cave, “This would be great for a movie.” And they still go in.

    I’m about to post my review of *Gone Girl*…

  • Tonio Kruger

    La Cueva is basically Spanish for The Cave so I’m not sure where they got the English title from. Of course, this would not be the first movie whose title in a foreign language was not a literal translation of its original title.

  • Jurgan

    The picture made me think of The Descent. No monsters, though.

  • *The Descent* is MUCH better.

  • RogerBW

    Good to see that it’s well done, but at this point if the trailer looks like found-footage I need a positive reason to see the thing.

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