Revealed: The Secret to Enjoying Sanctum

Sanctum, last weekend's James Cameron-produced underwater adventure, was not exactly a hit with critics nor the box-office. And, if I'm being honest, I very much despised this movie. But then I really started thinking about it -- really trying to figure out what director Alister Grierson was trying to accomplish. Finally, I think I've figured out the true meaning (if not necessarily the intent) of Sanctum: It's a movie about a serial killer.

Obviously, spoiler alerts are in effect at this point (who knows -- you still might go see Sanctum). But if you've viewed the movie, it's worth considering from this much more enjoyable perspective. After all, while Sanctum tries to convey that it's a film about survival in a cave system that's been flooded due to a massive storm system, the storm is not the enemy. The real danger all comes from Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), who uses the storm to start his bloody rampage.

Let's look at the evidence, starting with how many people Frank kills during his reign of terror. First, before the storm even hits, he goes on an underwater expedition with a female diver named Judes (Allison Cratchley). Judes, as other characters mention, looks physically exhausted and probably should no longer be diving, but Frank lets her accompany him. Why? Because she is weak and can easily be killed.

During their exploration, Frank "notices" that Judes' air hose is "leaking." As a viewer, I certainly didn't notice the leak -- at least not until Frank reaches to "fix" it and it mysteriously comes unattached. There are cameras watching, so Frank offers Judes his own air hose -- temporarily, anyway, only to fight his victim away when she wants more. She eventually drowns. His son, Josh (Rhys Wakefield), actually even accuses Frank of murdering her! The other members of the diving team anoint Frank a hero for even "attempting" to save Judes. One down for the serial killer.

The next victim? Luko (Cramer Cain). When the storm strikes, Luko is knocked into the water by a falling boulder. When Josh finds a very much still alive Luko, Frank announces that he will take care of the situation. Naturally, Frank tells the surviving members of the diving team that Luko has "broken every bone in his body" and he must perform a mercy killing. Indeed, Luko looked pretty rough, but is drowning him really the answer?

It is for a serial killer! Frank takes his forearm and buries Luko's head into the water. I'm not an orthopedic surgeon, but for a guy who has broken "every bone in his body," that left arm looked pretty damn strong as it punched at Frank's face in an effort to get him to stop. Frank claims his second victim of the day.

Later, George (Dan Wyllie) develops decompression sickness after ascending too quickly to the surface. Does he ask Frank for help? Actually, the opposite. Frank questions George -- supposedly his best friend -- about his behavior, suspecting that George may have the bends. George certainly doesn't want Frank to know about his illness, because he knows that Frank will use it as an excuse to make George his next victim. Accepting his fate, George drowns himself as opposed to being another notch on Frank's bedpost.

Now there's the case of Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd). The filmmakers paint Carl as Sanctum's villain -- the man who loses his senses and inexplicably attacks Frank while Frank is trying to "save" the team. In reality, Carl is the movie's hero. The man has seen Frank murder team member after team member, but the last straw is the death of Carl's girlfriend Victoria; she perished after Josh, who is slowly learning the intricacies of murder from his father (more on that in a moment), shines a flashlight into Victoria's eyes, causing her to fall to her death. Carl, whom the audience is now rooting against but should be rooting for, tries to finally put an end to Frank's homicidal streak by stealing his last remaining air canister.

Frank reacts by attempting to kill Carl the same way he killed Luko: with a forearm to the neck pushing him underwater. (Sure, some might call this self defense.) Not this time, Frank: Carl prevails, causing Frank to land on a stalagmite. Carl tries to flee, but alas, drowns in his escape attempt. Frank claims one last victim.

Now, like any good serial-killer movie, here's where the sequel is set up. Frank, mortally wounded, summons his son over. Frank explains that Josh must now drown him. And thus the circle is complete: The son, who already showed some signs, now becomes the new killer. And Josh does drown his own father with the exact same technique -- forearm to the neck -- that Frank periodically used to dispatch his own helpless victims. Josh is the only survivor, so only he knows of his father's wicked habit of drowning the people who trusted him the most. And now a new McGuire takes over Frank's diabolical reins.

So don't be surprised in the first scene in of Sanctum II: The Rising when Josh, laying in his bathtub with a girlfriend, looks over at her and slowly moves that murderous forearm straight for her neck...

Follow Mike Ryan on Twitter

Follow Movieline on Twitter


  • Christopher Rosen says:

    This sounds like the most insane movie ever. How many people die in this thing?!

  • caves4fun says:

    Cannot believe we saw the same movie! I have to say, in my view, I think the above review is total fiction. Cave diving is an extreme sport; diving in unchartered caves, when a cyclone has flooded is absolutely fraught with dangers and unexpected events. The film (for me) was amazing. Superb photography, nail biting stunts, edge of seat suspense and just because the script was kept minimal I felt it worked far better. Never for a moment thought it was bad acting. Using ones own imagination to question what one would have done in the same circumstances, became an element that seemed to cement the viewer with the viewed. Great subtle psycological elements here. Well done. Trust Cameron to bring out another winner. Note: it can get very claustrophobic...its good to get out into the fresh air later!

  • Mike Ryan says:

    I think I mentioned them all. And all by the hands of Frank!

  • The Winchester says:

    The secret to my enjoyment of the film was schnapps.
    And pot.

  • Scraps says:

    Here, here!

  • JonDoh says:

    This has to be the most deranged article on 'Father bashing' I've EVER seen! Look, I realize you liberals hate fathers and men in general but you are so far off base and twist the facts in EVERY scene you describe that I don't even have space here to rebuke you, suffice to say that almost every person who died did so by their own mistakes except for the very emotional mercy killings that made perfect sense in that situation. You conveniently fail to mention how Frank (the father) adamantly warned certain characters against the actions they took that cost their lives! It really pisses you off when a father is actually the hero in a movie doesn't it? Just eats you alive doesn't it?!?

  • Hear hear! Father-basher! You are an OFF-BASE MAN-HATING LIBERAL, Mike Ryan. I can't believe I hadn't seen it until now. Pack your things and GET OUT, father-basher!

  • Jen Yamato says:

    Brillz. Almost worth re-watching Sanctum for. Except nothing is worth that.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    It's about time someone called me out on my deranged liberal father bashing.

  • Jaina says:

    Thank you!!!!! Finally, a POSITIVE look on the film! I loved it. It helps that I'm a Richard Roxburgh fan but I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I'm going to see it again tomorrow with a friend.

  • Jaina says:

    Thank you!!!!! Finally, a POSITIVE look on the film! I loved it. It helps that I'm a Richard Roxburgh fan but I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I'm going to see it again tomorrow with a friend.

  • buzz says:

    This is almost enough to get me to sit through that mess again. Now here's the REAL challenge - can you do the same thing for THE CAVE? I think something involving Eddie Cibrian secretly being Cole Hauser's twin sister would be nice.

  • A Real Person says:

    I refuse to believe that these comments are from real human beings. If I am incorrect, you should all kill yourselves. Really.
    This is one of the worst films I have seen in YEARS. There is really no debate over whether or not it is a bad film. If you think it was 'OK', then you are unable to discern what a good film is. If you used the word 'liberal' in your review, or in your rebuttal to a review, you are brainwashed and I hope for the sake of your offspring that you die soon so that they may be raised by someone with a slightly higher chance of not ruining them forever.

  • Julie says:

    I don't believe your review was accurate. I myself thoroughly enjoyed the film, and not once, did I question if "Frank" was a serial killer. I think you just took this film and changed the whole thing around, making none of it realistic. This is why I don't believe everything I read people.

  • kathy says:

    Your review is 100% wrong. Frank was not a killer but I great man desperate to save his son!! Did u not even here a word they said!! U idiot!!

  • Some guy says:

    Over a year late, I've come to say that your review is preposterous. I read the whole review before seeing the movie, and then watched it immediately after for the first time. Your sense of reality must be on a level separate from mine, because the movie, while falling way short of greatness, is still just a survival thriller.

  • Tommykey says:

    What a dumb review.

    Frank actually tried to dissuade Judes from going into the Devil's Restriction with him, but she was adamant about joining him.

    As for her leaking hose, it was obviously caused when she got temporarily stuck in the tunnel. She even says at one point that her hose is stuck. And you do see bubbles coming out of it as Frank approaches her when they are in the 'Cathedral'.

    As for her drowning, the reason it happened was because she started panicking and wouldn't give Frank his mask back when he clearly needed to breathe again. Then when he does manage to wrest it back from her, she starts trying to take it off of him. As a certified diver myself who also took a Rescue Diver course, one of the things you are taught in a situation with a panicked diver is to separate yourself from that person if they become a threat to your safety, otherwise you end up with two people dead instead of one.

    In a way, everyone's death after Judes can be attributed to Carl. When Frank noticed that Forward Base was starting to flood and wanted everyone there to evacuate, they couldn't leave because Carl decided to go off on a dive without telling anyone. Otherwise they might have made it out, which of course means there would have been no movie.

    As someone who loves scuba diving and would like to try caving, I love this movie. I don't need some snob telling me that if I enjoy watching Sanctum that I am "unable to discern what a good film is."

  • srisaas says:

    I am surprised that someone managed to misunderstand this movie. This review really tries to prove a point by imagining things that were not shown.

  • Someone who sticks to the facts says:

    Mike Ryan: I think u may b the deranged serial killer for even thinking this way. I too, like *tommykey* am a certified diver and he is completely correct..a panicked diver is a dead one and all the characters in that scene even said so. It was a matter of 1 death or two! He gave her the mask as should b done with Buddy Breathing and due to her panic she used way more oxygen, so inevitably Frank needed the mask back. As was also mentioned by the characters, buddy breathing with a full mask apparatus is almost always suicidal itself so Frank was being a hero to try it at all, let alone with a "buddy" in full panic mode. Furthermore u accused Josh of pointing the light in Victoria's face.. that was Carl. There were also bubbles coming from the hose of Jude's re-breather prior to Frank touching it(use DVD and pause it at these moments, it may help u in your obvious delusions). As a matter of fact, frank never got to attempt to fix it, Jude's began panicking as soon as Frank told her, she turned moving the hose from Frank's reach, and the hose burst. Simple as that

  • Someone who sticks to the facts says:

    I know I'm bouncing around a lot from scene to scene but that's a matter of my own frustration at someone's pathetic attempt to write an " intelligent" review. Frank does not force Jude's to dive, she's clearly determined, and REFUSES to take a break. As for Luko, yes he fights Frank in the drowning scene but that is human survive. He could have made those same attempts with broken bones with a lil something called adrenaline. The point was he was clearly too broken to make the arduous journey Frank knew was ahead of them if they were going to even try to get out alive, which he knew and warned them all, was a big 'if'. As for George he knew Frank wouldn't let him give up, decompression sickness or not so he sacrificed himself to keep from slowing down the others, a true hero. Carl was simply a pompous rich guy who didn't think things through, acted without thinking and above all else was selfish! Then he completely lost it when Victoria died( her fault for using the knife against Frank's orders and Carl's for shining a light in her eyes after so much time in the dark. Again against Frank's orders. Frank was a highly experienced and intelligent cave diver who did his best to try to get them all out safely even though he knew the odds were against them...and u Nike Ryan are just delusional as I said before. Oh and ur whole summary after Carl steals the canister is BS! Get your facts str8 if you're going to review it!! Frank tries to catch him, doesn't but through their own survival skills he and his son continue on. They find Carl again, alive. Share what little food they have with him and Carl loses it.Josh tries to drown Carl because he's crazy at this point

  • Someone who sticks to the facts says:

    Carl comes out of the water and then tackles frank onto the stalagmite. Now I have wasted enough time on your idiotic a$$, so I'm done. I just didn't want the ppl who read your pathetic review to become as delusional as u without hearing the truth first.

  • Someone who sticks to the facts says:

    I know I said I was done, but one more thing to say. U clearly are an idiot because when someone called u a deranged liberal father basher, u just replied with some stupid @$$ sarcastic remark. You're not even intelligent enough to defend your own work which also further proves my point that your review was just a pathetic attempt to get ppl to read something u had written. Need ego-boosts much? The more I think about and re-read your review and comments the more I realize u truly may have the capacity to think like a serial killer, but could never actually be one, your confidence and intelligence are far too low for that!!!

  • get it right! says:

    This is a really strange point of view to take but I think it's stupid. Frank is obviously not a serial killer he even tried to save Victoria but she didn't listen to him and George did drown himself because he didn't want to slow them down, Frank wouldn't have killed him because they were really good friends.
    They try to help Carl when they find him later after he steals the last canister but he has gone loopy so they can't help him.
    Carl IS the antagonist of the film he practically kills Victoria by shining the light on her face and then purposefully steals the last canister and if it wasn't for him going on a dive without telling anyone at the start of the movie all the people could've escaped.
    If it wasn't for Frank none of them would've gotten out alive....

  • jimmy says:

    what the fuck have you been smoking dude? you probably don't know shit about diving i hear, everything in this movie is correct ( exept the climbing).
    the first victim vasn't really a victim, they had respirators that needs to respirate oxigen and you can't really switch to another person like that and they can't go up because it's to fast and they will get diving sickness.

    Luko died because of his injuries, he would have died anyway because he probably had broken his back and ribs. when you go throu a passage with cliffs under water they will get hit back and forth and probably get their skull open so Frank drowned him so he could have taken the easy way out, and ofcourse they couldn't take him with them because they wouldn't make it because he would have slowed them down and he would probably died anyway.

    Carl's girlfriend Victoria died because of accually Carl was pointing a flashlight in her face and blinding her by accident and she fell and tastled her her in, but she was all shakey with the knife and cut the rope instead of her hair, so she fell and broke her back on the lines and fell to drown.

    George had diving sickness and you get bubbely ( childish explenation) in the blood and you aventually die and he knew it so there you go retard.

    and then again when Carl was devistated and Frank said that Carl was going last he thought probably he had the last chance of survival so he made the move and took the respirator and went by him self.
    he eventually found an air pocket and it was there he found his girlfriend and that he got so hungary that he accually ate her. thats where Frank and joshua finds him and they see that he had ate her and that the fact he left them to die, they made the move to go without Carl. The fact that Carl know's that he is going to die if he dosn't leve with them he makes a move on them and tries to kill Frank and would probably try to kill joshua aswell but joshua beats Carl adn with Carls adrenalin rish he makes a risky move that is his only chance. the fact that joshuas father Frnk is dying he askes for the easy way out and joshua provides him with it (like Luko)

    So no you retard try not to spitt on the movie makers bytrying to make the movie look bad by your stupidness, so please get some IQ and research some facts and causes f diving sickness and pay attention to the movie and don't sit there like a retard and protend that you knew shit what the movie was about!

    I think it was exiting, dramatic, action and good directing and a good ending so i give it a 7/10,
    and i recommend this movie very much! :) hope you have a good day folks and again Mike fuck you! :)

Post a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s