Sanctum (2011)

I’m surprised that there haven’t been any threads about Sanctum, a 2011 film that was associated with James Cameron (in the role of executive producer). It didn’t get great reviews (just 30% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I personally found it to be absolutely riveting.

Ironically, one of the stunt double divers (a Polish-born Australian technical diver named Agnes Milowka) who appeared in the film died in a cave diving accident just a few weeks after the film was released. Reading about her, I thought that perhaps the film exaggerated some of the tight spots that cave divers go into, but apparently they really are this crazy (IMHO).

Did anyone else see the film? What did you think of it?

I had a question, too. In the film when:

…Frank and Judes start to buddy-breathe, and Judes panics, what exactly did Frank have in mind? Go back the way they came? (Not likely while buddy breathing.) Try to ascend, buddy breathing with decompression stops?


I found the scene where Judes drowned to be very disturbing. The thought of watching someone drown right before your eyes has occupied my nightmares since I watched the film–especially watching her involuntarily inhale a lungful of water. :eek:

The film was great mostly for the set pieces. I thought the first death was full of contrived plot stupid. But overall it was a fun and riveting adventure.

The scenery is great, the cinematography is beautiful, and the situation is dramatic. The movie certainly deserves better than 30%, if for no other reason than much of the movie resembles the most gorgeous National Geographic film ever.

Regarding Frank & Judes:

I think Frank was just buying time and trying to calmly think through their options. When he decided there was no way out that wouldn’t put him, at minimum, at severe risk, he decided to let her die. That was a rough, disturbing scene.

As I understand it, cave-diving is incredibly dangerous, and it’s easy to understand why. Despite this, just as there are people who climb Everest, or explore the furthest reaches of normal caves, there are people who will explore remote, narrow, water-filled caves for much the same reasons. They want to push themselves, they want to be first, they want to conquer it. I think if the wide availability of video cameras has proven anything, it’s that there is nothing so crazy that someone won’t try it, and film themselves doing it.

[spoiler]I thought that the issue was that she panicked, and wouldn’t give the face mask back to Frank. He then had to forcefully take it back from her. Then, rather than waiting her turn again, she started clawing at him frantically until he had no choice but to let her drown.

My original question was what exactly he had in mind had she not panicked, and if in fact there were any options. I understand that rebreathers are very efficient, so there might have been enough air for both of them to buddy breathe up to the surface of the pool that they spotted (which is where the rest of the group ended up anyway)–including decompression stops–but they also seemed to be losing a lot of air during the exchanges, so probably not.[/spoiler]

Agreed. It reminded me of a scene in Gray Lady Down in which a sailor on the wrong side of a hatch drowned. (I saw this in the theater as a nine-year old, and it really affected me at the time.) This was much more graphic.

Regarding Frank & Judes:

[spoiler]Well yeah, I would think her panicking would be taken into account. I’m not sure he had any plan at all in mind when he started. He saw her in need of oxygen, and did the buddy-breathe with her to solve the immediate problem. His first instinct was to act to save her. After a little bit of thought on the situation they were in, and the many variables (including her panicking), he decided that there was no way they were both getting back with the one tank. Cold-blooded, but given the situation and his experience, there’s a very good chance he was right.

I can’t really speculate as to the details of any plan he was contemplating. I haven’t seen the movie since it came out, but I always assumed their only way back was the way they came, through that narrow passage that they could only fit through one at a time. I thought that passage was the major stumbling-block, as they couldn’t buddy-breathe through it. Didn’t they have spare tanks on the other side of that passage, that they left behind because of the tightness of that passage? I’m sorry, I just don’t remember enough of that in detail to speculate.[/spoiler]