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Film / Sanctum

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Sanctum is a 2011 film written by Andrew Wight and executive produced by James Cameron, among others.

Very loosley based on Wight's near-fatal 1988 expedition of Australia's Nullarbor cave system, the film follows master diver Frank McGuire and his crew, including his son Josh, on an expedition in the unexplored Esa'ala Cave system in Papua New Guinea. When a tropical storm starts flooding the cave, cutting them off from their planned exit, the crew must explore the uncharted and flooded caverns in order to find another way out.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Ax-Crazy: Carl, resulting in Frank's death
  • Black Dude Dies First: Well, sort of. Luko is a New Guinea native, dark-skinned but not African. Averted with (Caucasian) Jules who's actually the first to die.
  • Blood from the Mouth: George, suffering from the Bends.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Josh's fang necklace with a built in flashlight.
  • Dwindling Party
  • Dies Wide Open: Judes drowns like this.
  • In Medias Res: The first shot you see is Josh floating aimlessley, seemingly dead. He makes it out though.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Victoria holds this most of the time, which kills her when she cuts her own rope to free her entangled hair. Justified in that she has no experience in cave diving, which other characters point out constantly.
    • Considering that they have limited amounts of battery life, they ALL use their headlamps and later engine oil torches ALL the time. Alternating lamps would have allowed them to have light for a lot longer.
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  • I Will Only Slow You Down: George, suffering from Decompression Sickness, coughing up blood, and unable to continue, crawls off into a side-tunnel and hides, waiting for death
  • Large Ham: Ioan Gruffudd, so very much.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. And how. Judes is the first character to die, but her death merely sets the stage for Victoria's shocking demise.
  • Mercy Kill: Frank does this to Luko after he falls down a shaft and breaks all the bones in his body. Later, Josh must do it to his dad after he's been stabbed by sharp rocks.
  • Survival Mantra: Frank recites "Kubla Khan" (also less commonly known as "Xanadu") by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Josh later asks his father to teach him the poem.
  • The Hero: Josh, right? Not so fast. The only life he actually saved was his own. And by neglecting to bring extra oxygen to the cave he was at least partly responsible for Judes' death.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Nobody actually died in the true story, which was experienced by the screenwriter himself.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Josh is really detached from his cave-diving, spelunkering dad.


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